EMAC, Katrina, and the Governors of Louisiana and Mississippi


William L. Waugh, Jr., is a professor of public administration and urban studies in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. His research focuses on disaster policy, emergency management, and local government capacity building. He is the author of Living with Hazards, Dealing with Disasters (M. E. Sharpe, 2000) and other books on emergency management and terrorism. He serves on the Emergency Management Accreditation Program Commission, which sets standards for and accredits state and local emergency management agencies, and he is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Emergency Management.
E-mail: wwaugh@gsu.edu


State and local governments along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts were overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina and lacked the capacity to function without outside assistance. Mutual aid agreements are common among communities and provide essential surge capacity when catastrophes strike. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is just such a mechanism for sharing resources. How well or how poorly governors use EMAC depends on their familiarity with the system and how prepared their state and local agencies are to integrate EMAC personnel and other resources. Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana was less familiar with EMAC than was Governor Haley Barbour in Mississippi and had less assistance in using the system. State and local officials in Louisiana were also less familiar with mutual assistance compacts than their counterparts in Mississippi. The integration of EMAC assets into state and local operations was easier in Mississippi because officials had set up an area command to coordinate operations.