Katrina: It Reshaped the Gulf Coast – How Will it Reshape Washington, D.C.? Remarks by Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, United States Coast Guard

  • Admiral Thad W. Allen
Keywords: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, National Response Plan, emergency response, Thad Allen, New Orleans, Gulf Coast, Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, hurricanes, natural disasters, Department of Homeland Security, DHS, Department of Defense, DOD


Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, two of the most powerful storms in history, devastated the Gulf Coast region in 2005. These natural disasters not only destroyed lives, neighborhoods and communities but also challenged the local, state and federal governments' emergency response infrastructure. To learn from these events and the government's response to them, The George Washington University School of Public Policy and Public Administration (SPPPA) held a symposium on December 2, 2005, which featured the following keynote address by then Vice Admiral Thad Allen, the principal federal official managing the federal government's response efforts to Hurricane Katrina. In his speech, Admiral Allen described his own efforts and the federal government's efforts to respond to the hurricanes in a timely and efficient manner. For the audience, the chance to hear Admiral Allen – who spoke from the Gulf Coast region via remote technology – provided an opportunity to hear an in-person, first-hand account of the value of public administration.

Author Biography

Admiral Thad W. Allen
Thad W. Allen was appointed as the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on March 29, 2006. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Chief of Staff, U.S. Coast Guard and Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D. C. He also serves as the Chairman of the Department of Homeland Security’s Joint Requirements Council. In September 2005, Admiral Allen was designated the Principal Federal Official for Hurricane Katrina response and recovery activities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Additionally, he served as the Principal Federal Official for Hurricane Rita response and recovery activities in Louisiana. Prior to his assignment as Chief of Staff, Admiral Allen concurrently served as the Commander for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area, Fifth Coast Guard District and U. S. Maritime Defense Zone Atlantic. He also led Atlantic forces in the Coast Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the past, Admiral Allen has also commanded the Seventh Coast Guard District, directed all Coast Guard operations in South Carolina, Georgia, most of Florida and throughout the Caribbean, and served as the Coast Guard’s Director of Resources. In addition, he has served on three Coast Guard cutters and held various coastal operations command assignments including Captain of the Port/Group Long Island Sound, CT; Group Atlantic City, NJ; and LORAN Station, Lampang, Thailand. Admiral Allen graduated from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in 1971. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from The George Washington University and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000. He also holds a Master of Science degree from the Sloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2003, Admiral Allen was elected a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow.