Business Continuity and Homeland Security, Volume 1

Business Continuity and Homeland Security, Volume 1

The Challenge of the New Age

Edited by David H. McIntyre and William I. Hancock

A practical and timely study on how businesses need to prepare for natural and man-made disasters. What should businesses consider in preparing for terrorist attacks, natural disasters, pandemic illnesses and other emergencies? What steps can a business take to ensure continuity during and after a crisis? What can we learn from past success?

Chapter 16: Doing Business in No Man’s Land: The Lessons of Katrina (III)

Geoff Williams

Subjects: business and management, international business, law - academic, terrorism and security law, politics and public policy, terrorism and security


Geoff Williams If we had all the information to make a decision, it would no longer be a decision but a foregone conclusion. (Anonymous) INTRODUCTION Almost a month after Hurricane Katrina clobbered the Gulf Coast with winds up to 145 mph, and usurped much of the infrastructure in its thriving oil industry, John Brady’s hindsight kicked in. It was the moment he heard Michael Brown, the abruptly dumped head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), say: ‘My biggest mistake was not realizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional.’ Brady, the chairman of the ASIS International, Oil, Gas and Chemical Industry Council, felt an ache in the pit of his stomach. If Brown was correct, that Louisiana’s government was dysfunctional, that was disheartening enough, but it was further discouraging to hear people at the top echelons of government blaming other entities for the catastrophic response in meeting the needs of the region after such a harrowing experience. He could only hope that the government would learn from its mistakes. Brady already knew that his industry had learned something. They couldn’t afford not to evolve their strategies and thinking after Katrina. Planning for emergencies was, after all, his job – he also served as a security adviser for ConocoPhillips – and arguably without people like Brady at the helm, the oil industry would probably have been much more badly bruised and battered by Katrina than it was. DISASTROUS RESULTS At the time there were over 4000 oil-producing sites in the Gulf of Mexico....

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