Brunsma, D. L., Overfelt, D., & Picou, J. S. (2010). The sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a modern catastrophe. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
The book captures the history and story of Katrina. The Hurricane was considered as the most damaging disasters of recent time because of the magnitude of displacement and the level of destruction. The book “The Sociology of Katrina Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe” is a collection of the views of the social scientists expounding on various perspectives of Katrina.
The book recognizes the Hurricane as a horrifying and destabilizing act of nature that created an enlightenment function that broke all resistance; it developed as a global media event. As a destabilizing event, it invites sociological inquiry and forces people to rethink the nature of future risks characterizing modern catastrophes. Policy actors and political class had failed to act based on the prediction of social and physical scientists, they failed to heed the meteorological warnings and forecasts; this resulted in manufacturing failure that resulted in ineffective and inept response by all levels of government. From past literature on disasters, Katrina was a unique one and hence it formed the basis of conceptualizing future disasters (Brunsma, Overfelt, & Picou, 2010).
The book discusses the sociological perspective of disaster literature, it also provides alternative perspectives as well as analysis of post-disaster efforts of data collection; it also examines emerging social questions that cropped up after the Hurricane. The book, therefore, exposes data and information regarding the efforts of recovery and other issues such as environmental condition. The book also discusses other social issues like economy, healthcare, issues, and education. Katrina turned out to be a huge storm and it was considered as the beginning of the large volumes of traumatic injuries. Katrina was also considered as the storm responsible for the disruptive relocations of people in the history of the United States of America. The storm is very much responsible for several severe problems suffered by the community such as trauma, displacements and curtailing economic growth (Brunsma, Overfelt, & Picou, 2010).
The book captures the restoration of the physical well-being of the people and the physical setting. Without the information that is obtained from books, the plans for restoration were to be based only on the proposals of political operatives who have strategic advantages to the press and architects with theories. Katrina, according to the authors offered a window of opportunity on the future ways of how to address emerging disasters and what people need to understand. Katrina provided a very unique chance on how to learn about the anatomy of modern disasters and how to prepare for them as well as to understand about the people who still suffer from its effects ((Brunsma, Overfelt, & Picou, 2010).
The book explores the sociological insights that emerged from the continuous saga of Katrina as the survivors continue to rebuild and restore their lives. The survivors also have continued to emerge from the challenges corroding and deterring timely recovery and restoration. The recovery from the effects of the Hurricane has been devastatingly slow. The authors argue that the disaster is not a simple natural disaster because it has economic, social, political, social and psychological consequences that are still apparent in the community and demand sociological attention. The book only captures the sociological aspects of the storm and provides a sociological account of the events following the storm. The chapter on recovery exposes the several challenges involved in overcoming the fundamental problems that resulted from Katrina. From the perspectives in the book, it is evident that the storm is not yet over because Katrina continues to generate economic, community, political and personal controversy in America.
The book examines on how responses towards disasters have over time changed as well as assessing the perceptual impact and biases about urban residents regarding the willingness to help the victims of the natural disaster. Students and researchers are given a chance to explore the various urban social problems like healthcare and inadequate housing, the media bias that exist about urban residents and the criminalization of urban residents. These are exacerbated under stressful conditions that were imposed by Katrina. The analyses of the Hurricane concerns much on class and racial stratification in America and the fact that it is about the ability of the nation to address similar natural disasters (Brunsma, Overfelt, & Picou, 2010).
Five years after the catastrophic storm, the devastating impact is still felt today. This book therefore explores the emerging themes and other ongoing issues that have continued to besiege the survivors. This knowledge is considered as essential for societies heading towards further confrontation. The authors analyzed Katrina and formed strong descriptions from different vantage points and the consequences of the disaster that was considered to be dire. Any individual who is interested in understanding more about the disaster of Katrina or any other unnatural event should read the book because it is insightful and authoritative about the topic. Most of the chapters in the book dealt much on the sociological perspectives of disaster and offers alternative viewpoints as well as the emerging social questions that developed after the disaster of Katrina (Brunsma, Overfelt, & Picou, 2010).
Lessons for emergency management
Lack of leadership
The government of United States did not demonstrate leadership in the coordination of disaster response. There have been many minor disasters that had befell the United States of America but researchers and the government ignored; these included minor disasters like oil spill, toxic contamination and earthquake recovery have been characterized by slow government response. Katrina took shape even before the 2005 and the storm will not go anywhere soon because it is an ongoing event. The disaster was, therefore, an important event of our time and when it is charged based on the number of lives lost, it does not qualify as the worst disaster to have visited the land of America and if it is judged according to the number of people displaced, then there are other events that have displaced more people than Katrina. Katrina stands as the worst and destructive form of disaster to have ever hit United States when the harm caused is considered and it is the most instructive when its potential significance of the knowledge generated is considered.
The role of the media in exposing the magnitude of the disaster was phenomenal. From the disaster, the role of the media has been regarded as critical because the news and live pictures from the disaster zone elicited strong response from government and institutions. The media was the source of information during that moment.
Poor disaster coordination response
The Federal and State government demonstrated its inability to link together in times of disaster response. Besides capturing recovery, the book also dwells on the restoration of devastated portions of the coast. The aftermath of Katrina is identified as a host of acute social problems that have characterized the social structure in the United States of America. There are several issues that emerged from the disaster; this included civilian murder, institutional failure and other horrors, the book, therefore, explores all these issues from sociological point of view. The book is a data and technology driven and exhibits the best knowledge that could be offered by sociology. It explores the following about social constructions of Katrina: displacement, health, recovery, education, crime evacuation and the dynamic demographic composition of the region. The book provides a comprehensive account of the consequences of Katrina through sociological imagination.
The information acquired by studying Katrina will contribute, in an abstract way, to our store of knowledge and serves as a window of urgent realities. It exposed the weaknesses of the government of United States and other organizations in responding to emergencies. Katrina, therefore, changes the American perception of disasters; this is due to the magnitude of the damage and the area that was negatively impacted by Katrina. The number of people that was displaced by the disaster turned to be one of the largest population shifts in United States of America History; the number of people affected appeared to have reached high epidemic levels hence the disaster was considered to be a mighty storm (Brunsma, Overfelt, & Picou, 2010).
The book captures the various perspectives about the Hurricane, its recovery and the response that followed. The book is a comprehensive one to have ever been written and offers the sociological dimension of the disaster in an insightful manner. The book also explores the weaknesses that were involved in the process of responding to the disaster and the reaction by various institutions and agents of government. Researchers and students interested in understanding the sociological perspective of the Hurricane will find the book important.
Katrina, as a natural disaster was considered as a major sociological activity and the book assesses such issues like: The people who suffered most, how the damage was assessed, organization of the response and the nature of the efforts to rebuild; all these were shaped by social factors. The book provides important perspectives about that event and addresses the concerns brought about by class and race in shaping the impact of religion in the response to the disaster.