Last Updated 10 Jan 2022

Hurricane Pam

Category Hurricane
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Hurricane Pam

Every community is faced with natural and man-made hazards that can best be addressed ahead of time by planners working closely with emergency management personnel to mitigate the threat and prepare for post-disaster recovery. Hurricane Pam was a simulated storm in New Orleans used to evaluate potential losses, improve response plans, and provide better coordination between agencies proactively. Hurricane Pam brought sustained winds of 120 mph, up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area.

This area included 13 parishes in southeast Louisiana-Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany Tangipahoa, and Terrebonne. The storm caused more than one million residents to evacuate and destroyed 500,000-600,000 buildings. A rough average of 100,000 people did not evacuate before the storm hit due to poverty, illness, or lack of transportation. Of the 100,000 that remained in the city, an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 would die.

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SLOSH (sea, lake, and overland surges from hurricanes) is used to identify the worst-case scenario of this storm by identifying the highest potential surges from this storm. SLOSH revealed that the levees would fail causing the city to flood and kill thousands due to drowning. These generalized assumptions caused emergency managers put their minds and resources into action to devise disaster response for areas such as search and rescue, medical care, sheltering, temporary housing, school restoration, and debris management.

The debris team estimates that Hurricane Pam would result in 30 million cubic yards of debris and 237,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste. Landfills have been identified that have available storage space and disposal sites for hazardous waste have been located. In the event that Hurricane Pam resulted in more debris and hazardous waste transportation should also be identified and factored into the plan in case the initial plan is not adequate. Shelter is a main issue for the residents of New Orleans because of the impact of Hurricane Pam.

The emergency management teams identified that about 1,000 shelters would be needed to house the residents displaced by the storm. About 784 shelters were secured, but 216 were still needed. Transportation and partnerships with other states should have been obtained to help secure the remaining shelters. Funding should have also been secured to help those relocate and possibly reside with family members in other states. The displaced residents would need to reside in temporary living arrangements for up to at least 100 days.

Simulations would need to be done to identify the costs for housing the maximum amount of individuals in each shelter for 100 days. The emergency management team would need to meet with local, state, and federal government officials to identify ways to generate funding for these costs. For example, a hurricane tax or surcharge to help generate resources in the event of a disaster or partnering with companies like Walmart or Target and developing a partnership for supplies. Search and rescue efforts are the key component to saving the lives of the individuals that may be

Search and Rescue

The search and rescue group developed a transportation plan for getting stranded residents out of harm's way. • Planners identified lead and support agencies for search and rescue and established a command structure that will include four areas with up to 800 searchers.


The medical care group reviewed and enhanced existing plans. The group determined how to implement existing immunization plans rapidly for tetanus, influenza and other diseases likely to be present after a major hurricane. The group determined how to re-supply hospitals around the state that would face heavy patient loads. The medical action plan includes patient movement details and identifies probable locations, such as state university campuses, where individuals would receive care and then be transported to hospitals, special needs shelters or regular shelters as necessary.


The school group determined that 13,000-15,000 teachers and administrators would be needed to support affected schools. The group acknowledged the role of local school boards and developed strategies for use by local school officials. Staffing strategies include the use of displaced teachers, retired teachers, emergency certified teachers and others eligible for emergency certification. Displaced paraprofessionals would also be recruited to fill essential school positions. The group discussed facility options for increasing student population at undamaged schools and prioritizing repairs to buildings with less damage to assist in normalizing operations The school plan also calls for placement or development of temporary schools near temporary housing communities built for hurricane victims.

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