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Detailed Description of ESF-14

    Plan Release Date: August, 2006
    Funding Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA’s Emergency Support Function #14 (ESF-14), or Long-Term Community Recovery, was the first planning process to get underway, and is probably the least well known.

Shortly after Katrina, FEMA invoked the ESF-14 process. This was the first time the agency had formally undertaken this type of effort.[1]

FEMA defines the purpose of ESF-14 as “[assisting] state and local governments in defining and addressing their long-term community recovery needs and goals while maximizing the impact and cost-effectiveness of recovery efforts through coordination of federal, state, local, non-profit, academic and private-sector resources.” At its peak, ESF-14 employed 325 staff across the 19 hurricane-affected Parishes. These included permanent FEMA staff, local experts and top consultants who were flown in. ESF-14 sought community participation and held a nation-wide “Louisiana Planning Day” on January 21, 2006, meant to involve Louisiana residents, both already returned and still displaced, in the planning process.

Work on the ESF-14 recovery plan for Orleans Parish continued through the end of April, 2006. The final version of the Orleans Parish ESF-14 plan was released without fanfare or publicity in mid-August, 2006, approximately four months after similar documents were posted for the other hurricane-damaged parishes.[2]

FEMA employees familiar with the Orleans Parish plan indicated that its sudden appearance on the state’s lousianaspeaks.org website was a surprise. To date, the plan prepared for Orleans Parish under ESF-14 has not been incorporated into any other planning processes nor has it been discussed by the major participants in any of the other efforts. According to Broderick Green, who worked on ESF-14, FEMA felt that the results were likely to confuse the situation given the other planning efforts underway, and the document, at least for Orleans Parish, was largely ignored.

[1] ESF-14 had been used on a trial basis two previous times, in Florida after Hurricane Charley, and in Utica, IL after a tornado in 2004. Neither of these trials dealt with communities that had experienced the scale of the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

[2] ESF-14 was considered much more successful elsewhere, and some of the ideas generated are becoming reality throughout the state. At least one parish has adopted the ESF-14 document in its entirety as its new master plan.

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