Disaster Recovery & Emergency Preparedness

Hurricane Katrina was the third strongest hurricane to ever make landfall and the most destructive natural and man-made disaster in our nation’s history. Taking more than 1,800 lives, these disasters exposed serious and fundamental flaws in the emergency response and disaster recovery system.

After Katrina, major improvements were made in disaster preparedness from federal, state and local governments, as well as from non-profit, academic, faith and community-based organizations. The City partnered with local non-profit Evacuteer to develop the City-Assisted Evacuation Plan and provide transportation to residents and tourists who are unable to self-evacuate during a mandatory evacuation. This plan was successfully implemented during Hurricane Gustav in 2008 when the City evacuated more than 22,000 residents.

Since Katrina:

  • Local, state and federal public safety personnel can seamlessly coordinate with each other during a disaster with interoperable communications systems;
  • Hospitals and nursing homes have more extensive plans in place for evacuations and other
    emergencies, and;
  • New Orleans has pioneered a special needs registry, identifying individuals who require
    special assistance during emergencies, such as those on oxygen, dialysis and respirators
    or have mobility issues.

Because of lessons learned from Katrina, new legislation has enhanced FEMA’s preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. The agency has expanded temporary disaster housing and its capacity to assist businesses and individuals affected by disasters. It also now has the authority to pre-stage personnel and resources in anticipation of disasters. With these enhancements in place, FEMA had the ability to provide a more proactive response to Superstorm Sandy in 2012 with more than 17,000 federal responders on the ground within seven days of the storm’s landfall.

Key Recovery Data


Goal set by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2008 to improve hurricane forecast accuracy over the next 10 years

$2 million

State-of-the-art, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

New Programs & Initiatives

City-Assisted Evacuation Plan
The City provides transportation assistance for up to 40,000 Orleans Parish residents and/or tourists who cannot self-evacuate during a mandatory city-wide evacuation

In 2013, the City, Evacuteer & the Arts Council of New Orleans unveiled new artwork to mark the 17 designated City evacuation pick-up points where residents may go during a mandatory evacuation

NOLA Ready
Year-round public awareness campaign maintains a culture of preparedness throughout the community

Special Needs Registry
The City Health Department identifies individuals with medical or mobility issues to offer special assistance during emergencies

Community Emergency Response Team
FEMA program that trains residents in basic disaster response skills that allow them to assist public safety agencies during emergencies

Hotel & Lodging Visitor Evacuation Plan
Developed by state and local governments to address the crucial need for an evacuation strategy exclusively for tourists

Interoperable Communications
Improved collaboration between local, state, and federal public safety agencies with state-of-the-art, P25 interoperable communications system