Incrementalism before the Storm: Network Performance for the Evacuation of New Orleans

Source: John J. Kiefer and Robert S. Montjoy, Public Administration Review, December 2006, Vol. 66 supplement

In this timely look at evacuation before, during and after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans, the authors trace the actions and interactions of the key players and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of their performance during the crisis. Though it was apparent that informal collaborative networks were necessary to deal with the disaster, this article suggests that they are never sufficient alone because networks, by definition, lack legal authority and diffuse public responsibility.

Hurricane Katrina revealed a lack of preparedness in disaster management networks covering the New Orleans area. This paper focuses on the operation of networks in preparing to evacuate residents in advance of a major disaster. There are two cases: the relatively successful evacuation of residents who left by private conveyance and the widely publicized failure to provide for those who could not or would not leave on their own. We trace the actions and inactions of various players to reach conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of networks in the special circumstances of disaster preparation.

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