Earthquake in Haiti: A Failure in Crisis Management?

By Piotrowski, Chris | Organization Development Journal, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Earthquake in Haiti: A Failure in Crisis Management?


Piotrowski, Chris, Organization Development Journal


Abstract

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti provides a real-life framework that highlights the political realities of responding to mass emergencies and also reveals some of the limitations of the extant literature on crisis management in facilitating global response in the immediate aftermath of major disasters. Recently, researchers in the field of emergency management and disasters (e.g., Boin, 2009; Drabek, 2007; Shalev et al., 2000) have outlined issues that need to be addressed by crisis managers, policymakers, and government officials. This article discusses some of the premises regarding the critical lack of crisis management factors (e.g., modeling, agency coordination and integration, crisis planning, leadership functions) that limit the efficacy of the role of national initiatives related to the preparedness for, response to, recovery from, and mitigation of major natural disasters.

Introduction

Natural disasters have been (and continue to be) a major research focus in my professional development. Despite the fact that crisis events have many common issues and characteristics (Lalonde, 2007), I am continually struck by the stark reality that individual natural disasters have a host of unique factors, many of which have not been the focus of prior research. This is interesting since the body of knowledge regarding natural disasters, including earthquakes, is quite voluminous (see Table 1).

For example, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was largely an uncontrolled fire event; the 1994 Northridge, CA earthquake called attention to pancake-collapse on major roadways; the Mt. St. Helen eruption prompted major flooding. More recently, Hurricane Katrina revealed the weaknesses of the levee system and faulty construction and maintenance by the U.S. Corp of Engineers (van Heerden, 2006); the 2004 series of major hurricanes that hit the state of Florida highlighted the problems of sequential disasters targeting one geographic area in succession; the great Indonesian Tsunami of 2004 showed the inadequacy of tida learly warning systems (Pardasani, 2006).

I would argue that a) despite advances in disaster prediction and mitigation, many features and aspects of natural disasters, including crisis issues post-event, are largely unpredictable, and b) due to this uncertainty and ensuing chaos, mitigation and emergency response initiatives tend to be largely lacking in efficacy. Perhaps for these reasons disaster researchers and crisis management professionals need to stress contingency factors in their research, crisis planning, and recovery strategies (Pennebaker & Harber, 1993). With these concerns in mind, I would like to share some of my observations regarding the recent earthquake in Haiti as a case study. I do so, acknowledging the fact that the tragedy is still unfolding and remains in its nascent stages.

Perspectives on the Haitian Earthquake

We have all seen this catastrophic real-life movie before. Destitute, bewildered, injured survivors of a natural disaster waiting for assistance and pleading for aid. Many in mourning, in pain, enveloped in a blanket of despair, numbed by their misfortune and suffering, and mostly just waiting for relief and rescue. This scene looks familiar to the haunting images in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I can not help but imagine the visceral and psychological impact of the earthquake on New Orleans residents to the events unfolding before them-post-traumatic stress reactions and distressing memories. And now it has happened again to a major city, this time on a larger, more precarious scale.

Like Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti is considered, by most accounts, a major mass disaster or calamity. But foremost, these natural disasters are emergency crises. Undoubtedly, the critical immediate issues are a) adequately providing for the basic human needs (nutrition, safe water, shelter), and b) providing medical treatment for the injured, and c) rescuing trapped victims, and d) ensuring public health (burying the dead, sanitation). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Earthquake in Haiti: A Failure in Crisis Management?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.