Emergency Preparedness and Management in Florida Essay

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Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response for Natural Disasters or Terrorists Attacks in Florida

Emergency management has been described regarding the phases by using words such as prepare. Mitigate, respond and recover. For this paper, we are going to examine the underlying concepts, variation, limitations, and implications of emergency management phases. Moreover, we are going to look at the various preparedness and response strategies applied by the State of Florida when dealing with natural disasters and terrorist attacks among others. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to show the preparedness and response put in place for these crises for both researchers and practitioners. The paper will also try to give definitions and descriptions of two components, preparedness and response, of emergency management, the temporal versus functional distinctions. Moreover, it is important to understand the interrelationships and responsibilities for each of the phases (mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery) and the diversity of research perspectives concerning new terms used such as sustainability, disaster resistance, business continuity, resilience, and risk management among others. The confusion that arose with approaching all hazards to emergency management as adequate for homeland security hence we are going to give contextual definitions.

Introduction

The capacity to predict precisely when and where the next terrorist attack and natural disaster will strike is limited because it is constrained naturally by the limits of physical and natural science hence, people only trade in probabilities. We also trade in probabilities when dealing with other risks, but some other educated guesses that improve predictability can be made. Each year, from June 1 to December 1 is when hurricane season is and strikes the U.S. East and Gulf coasts including Florida State. Worldwide, the natural disaster trends continue to grow due to increasing in human populations into vulnerable areas, and urbanization has created and exacerbated vulnerability. Moreover, the September 11 attacks made the threat of terrorism to become visible and served as a major event that generated unprecedented terrorism interests as a problem facing U.S. national borders. Therefore, this significantly changed the mass perception of the public of terrorism risks.

However, the State of Florida has cooperated with municipal representatives with established and maintained comprehensive programs that prepare them for terrorist attacks. Therefore, the plans help them manage the impacts of such events and enhance the assessment of the state's vulnerabilities, training and planning to handle such events. The response action has two phases: the actions intended to prevent or end the act of terrorism, crisis management; and those that deal with the impacts of the event, consequence management. Mass casualty attacks and disasters have generated a domestic political pressure of the most advanced industrialized nation in the globe to respond to natural disaster. President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) due to political pressure and six years after its birth for many critics, it has remained as a bureaucratic morass and a problem. Such are the problems that have significantly influenced FEMA and therefore, this paper looks at the various preparedness and response measures applied by the state of Florida for natural disasters and terrorist attacks among other events (Edwards & Steinhausler, 2007). However, we shall also look at the geographical location of Florida to give the reader a view of how the natural disasters become prevalent in such states.

Geographical location of Florida

Florida is a constituent state of the United States of America and on March 3, 1845, it was admitted as the 27th state. Tallahassee is the capital of Florida. Its location in the northwestern panhandle earned it the nickname Sunshine State. After Texas, Florida is considered the second most populous Southern state hence, is the most populous state of the Southern states with over 20,270, 000 people in 2015. The Governor of the state is a Republican by the name Rick Scott. Florida has enjoyed a long and colorful development due to its geographic location that has helped it explain the states are striking new character. For the greater part of Florida, it lays on a peninsula protruding southeastward from North American continent hence separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico waters and points towards Cuba and the Caribbean Sea beyond. Along Florida's northern boundary, it shares a land border with Georgia and Alabama states and the nearest foreign territory is Bimini island in the Bahamas that is located 50 miles east of the state's southern tip. The marine shoreline of Florida totals to more than 8,400 miles, and this includes some 5,100 miles of the gulf. As such, it is home to 45 terrestrial ecosystems ranging from small islands of subtropical hammocks and Rocklands to vast dry prairies, scrubs, sandhills, floodplain forests, and Flatwoods.

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By having little change in elevation by a difference of few feet on its peninsula yields major landscape variations and within Flatwoods, for example, nearly slight elevation drops creates a mosaic of depression marshes, wet prairies, and swamps. For the Panhandle, the topographical changes are more dramatic where high bluffs and steep ravine systems flank the Apalachicola River and its tributaries.

Having, a coastline of 1200 miles, the state includes seagrass beds, estuaries, coral reefs, and swamps plus thousands of rivers, inland freshwater, springs, and streams that support numerous aquatic communities. The state's current and historic coastlines continue to influence its geology. Over thousands of years, the rising and receding seas have deposited vast quantities of limestone, and this has resulted in an abundance of karst features such as caves, sinkholes, limestone outcrops, depressions, and more than 300 large artesian springs. In the central peninsula, a series of sand ridges that once were islands surrounded by vast seas, animals, and isolating plants evolved into unique species. Moreover, the state's peninsular geography spans subtropical zones and temperature, and combined with excellent climate and geology has contributed to the diversity of habitat and an incredible array of species. Such a description of Florida shows the geography categories found in the state; that is general categories such as corridors, watersheds, and ecoregions that help conserve planning and priority setting (LandScope America, 2016).

For watersheds in Florida, they appear to be complicated by the presence of drainage systems that are disjointed and are evident in the northern parts of the state that have karst topography, geologic sponge. The water found in the watershed can flow into a sinkhole and flows underground before it emerges elsewhere in spring. The estimated number of springs found in Florida is 700 freshwater springs, and the largest is located near the capital Tallahassee known as the Wakulla Springs. It is among the largest freshwater springs globally that discharge over 400,000 gallons of water per minute (LandScope America, 2016).

The ecological corridors found in Florida serve the purpose of dispersal pathways, exchange, and migration of genes that are necessary for maintaining viable populations of animals and plants. Moreover, the corridors also facilitate the processes of the ecosystems such as the hydrological regimes and natural fires. Songbirds enjoy Florida's corridor when global migration occurs, and this helps in linking breeding sites in North America with the wintering areas in South and Central America, plus the Caribbean (LandScope America, 2016).

Ecoregions have been used as frameworks that assess the distribution and species status and ecosystems that make biological sense as compared to using politically derived lines like national boundaries, state, or county. They also provide an ecological basis for state partitioning into subunits for purposes of conservation planning. From the Nature Conservancy, Florida has portions of five ecoregions such as the East Gulf Coastal Plain, South Atlantic Coastal Plain Ecoregion, and Florida Peninsula among others (LandScope America, 2016).

Disaster preparedness and emergency response to natural disasters or terrorist attacks

In 1960, the west coast of Florida was hit by Hurricane Donna, and this led to President Kennedy creating the Office of Emergency Preparedness in 1961 that was entitled to deal with natural disasters. Subsequent calamities tested the office's activities of executive preparedness that included an earthquake. In 1992, Florida was again slammed by Hurricane Andrew and during this time, the Federal and State emergency systems were not equipped to handle a disaster of this magnitude. Hurricane Andrew caused close to $40 billion damages; 28,000 homes were destroyed, and 100,000 homes were severely damaged. In the same disaster, 250,000 people were left homeless, and 80,000 local businesses were damaged, killing 61 people. Electricity knocked out of 1.5 million inhabitants, and this disrupted phone services to people close to 150,000. During this time, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was nowhere to be found though they deployed a small task force to the region. Nonetheless, the situation overwhelmed the local and state governments, which resulted in delayed relief efforts due to the nonresponse of the agency (Adamski, Kline & Tyrrell, 2006, p. 8). Therefore, the systems failed on the agency, and since the telephone lines were all down, it became difficult to communicate the needs of the people to the state and federal officials.

From an editorial by the Elders Affairs (2013), the Secretary asserts….....

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