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Hurricane Katrina, Coronavirus Pandemic and Federalism
Both the Hurricane Katrina and Coronavirus pandemic help understand federalism. The two disasters were marred with power struggle which led to poor disaster management. The different levels of state and local governments were caught up in a tag-of-war as they sought the best ways to deal with the issues (FRONTLINE, 2005). In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the local and state government maintained that they were in control, however, there was a lot of confusion as they blamed one another as things moved from worse to worst. Some of the officials that were expected to help people and deal with the crisis during Hurricane Katrina included FEMA, the national guard, the army and the mayor. Additionally, there were issues with how the state and local government dealt with the Coronavirus pandemic. It uncovered the decentralized response that was led by governors, mayors and local health departments (FRONTLINE PBS, 2020). It appeared that the response team was not ready to work together to help deal with the pandemic. Instead, they were embroiled in a power struggle that led to the escalation of the pandemic.
During Hurricane Katrina one goal of federalism was to foster cooperation. The involved response team sought to work together to help deal with the disaster. For instance, the mayor was tasked with providing transport for the rescuers and ensuring that people had food in the shelters (FRONTLINE, 2005). However, he maintained that there were no national guards who were supposed to drive the buses. Therefore, although there was means of transport, they did not help in the evacuation process due to lack of drivers. Each and every team that was involved in the rescue process had different tasks. One challenge of federalism presented during Hurricane Katrina is that there was a lack of clear communication. The different powers involved in the evacuation process did not work together which affected the entire evacuation process (Couric,2007).
On the other hand, one goal of federalism during the coronavirus pandemic was to prevent state intrusion into the state. Governors, mayors and local health departments were required to work as a team to ensure that the pandemic did not spread to the other states. However, there was poor communication that caused confusion. The identification of the first case was made possible due to the collaboration of the local government, local health and the CDC (FRONTLINE PBS, 2020). They worked together to ensure that they were well-prepared in case the virus was identified. Although they were ready and understood the magnitude of the deadly virus, President Trump dismissed that there was anything to worry about. His utterances caused confusion and it led to laxity among the people. It affected the funding of the local health facilities to ensure that they were prepared to tackle the pandemic.
Assessing the two crises it is evident that there were challenges with federalism. First, during Hurricane Katrina both the local and the federal government were not willing to play their part and ensure that they dealt with the crisis. Instead, they blamed one another due to the poor execution of the evacuation process (FRONTLINE, 2005). They were not ready to collaborate and there was poor communication that affected the entire process. For instance, the army waited for too long before offering their help. Additionally, FEMA was poorly led and they misled the public on hurricane katrina. Both the local and state officials failed to plan. The mayor was tasked with ensuring that the people had food and organising school buses to evacuate the people. The national guard was tasked with offering security and helping evacuate the people.
The coronavirus pandemic showed the challenges of federalism. It showed the interference of the federal government which led to poor response to the pandemic. There was poor communication that led to confusion (FRONTLINE PBS, 2020). The federal government offered misleading information to the public which affected their perspective of the pandemic. Although some governors, the local health and the CDC felt that the virus was deadly, the government downplayed the entire issue.
The principle of federalism that is most important to achieving the goals of the United State’s ideals in democracy and representation is the state’s right. It holds that the federal government enjoys powers that are delegated to it by the constitution and other powers that are not limited for the states by the constitution are placed for every state or its people. The particular principle would help ensure that there is proper sharing of power and there is no interference. It ensures that there is proper sharing of power as well as duties and responsibilities. It would also make sure that there is no overlap and limitations that would interfere with democracy in the country.
One of the virtues that would work effectively is unity in necessary areas without a central control. It would ensure that there are no power struggles among the organisations involved in the crisis. Also, a competitive environment for public policy solutions would help during a pandemic or crisis. It would ensure that individuals are involved in the decision-making process.
Couric, K. (2007, August 28). 10 Questions: Life After Katrina. Retrieved October 06, 2020,
FRONTLINE. (2005, November 22). FRONTLINE: The Storm. Retrieved October 06, 2020,
FRONTLINE PBS (Director). (2020, April 21). Coronavirus Pandemic FRONTLINE [Video
file]. Retrieved October 7, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DJtjyB1gvE