Hurricane Katrina presents us with a rare, catastrophic opportunity to gain insight into crisis management and almost the entire field of public administration. The enormously destructive impact of this natural event on human life and organization has the potential for helping us understand what worked in the face of nature’s almost incomprehensible force, and how our ways of living together and governing our collective life need to change. As the articles in this special issue of PAR reveal, Katrina called into question our ethics, the allocation of our resources, the ability of government at all levels to meet a great challenge, our capacity to maintain or restore the delivery of basic public services, as well as the roles of law enforcement, the military, medical systems, and other emergency response organizations. Katrina put us to a harsh and unyielding test about how prepared we are to deal with the extremes that human society must be able to face and overcome. She revealed our fragility as well as our strength, our perfidy as well as our honor. Katrina illuminated the depth of human caring and cooperation, and the darker side of our nature also.
—Terry L. Cooper, University of Southern California
There is a lot to be learned about the impact of Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, Public Works Management and Policy and Economic Development Quarterly jointly published focus issues on the impact of Katrina. The former focused on the impact on infrastructure and subsequent policy decisions. The latter concentrated on the economic impacts of large natural disasters. This issue of PAR adds to this work by covering the bases of administrative responsibility, local government response, and the impact on the victims of the disaster. Although all these articles deal with a specific situation, they all draw broader implications which can be used either by managers on the front lines in similar circumstances or by academics as they try to integrate these theoretical lessons learned into their scholarly work. This is “must” reading for everyone.
—Claire L. Felbinger, American University