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No More Katrinas: How Reducing Disparities Can Promote Disaster Preparedness

Wenger, M.R.
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

January 1, 2008

This paper is organized into three parts. The first part summarizes important themes and findings from five background papers on disaster mitigation. These papers were written to answer several critical questions raised by Katrina’s powerful and tragic repercussions, as follows:
How did the social conditions that formed the basis of the tragedy arise and why was skin color such a significant factor in determining the degree of suffering?
Why was the response to the tragedy so delayed, uncoordinated, and inadequate?
As we anticipate the next disaster, wherever and whenever it may occur, how can we ameliorate the social conditions that invite unequal suffering and how can we plan for an emergency response that ensures that communities of color are no less vulnerable than others to the suffering that was on such vivid display after the wrath of Katrina?
The second part of this summary paper covers lessons learned during a day-long convening on January 29, 2008 in Oakland, California, where the five background papers were the subject of intense discussion. This day-long conversation helped to clarify universal themes embodied in the papers and to develop an over-arching framework for ensuring racial and ethnic disparities are addressed in future disaster preparedness efforts. Insights shared by the diverse group of participants in the Oakland convening are laid out in this section. The third part of this paper outlines recommendations for core principles that provide a framework for effective disaster preparedness planning. Policymakers and responsible members of the public alike will benefit from using this framework to ensure the mistakes made in responding to Katrina are never repeated.


HPI Katrina Reducing Disparities Promote Disaster Prep