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The University of New Orleans (UNO) was one of the first universities to receive a Disaster Resistant University (DRU) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Within a year of starting the DRU planning initiative at UNO, Hurricane Katrina struck the area on August 29th, 2005. This catastrophe provided a meaningful (albeit unwelcome) opportunity to evaluate the plan, learn, and redesign as needed post-Katrina.

The presentation will provide a brief history of the development of UNO’s DRU planning process pre-Katrina. This will be followed by a brief description of the impact of the hurricane on the UNO community…its physical plant, its operation, its students and its faculty. Certainly, the long-term recovery process of the university presented many challenges, and the author will briefly cover how and why various courses of action were developed. We’ll give a candid assessment of what worked, what didn’t, what we could have done better, why some measures were effective, and what we should have done differently.

The presentation will conclude with a brief description of UNO’s move to a continuous process improvement (CPI) paradigm; why it’s important to the DRU process and to emergency management in general.