The Value of Prepositioning Disaster Supplies Ahead of a Disaster

The Value of Prepositioning Disaster Supplies Ahead of a Disaster

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One of the key components of disaster preparation is the prepositioning of disaster supplies at strategic locations before disasters occur. The positioning of supplies closer to the disaster allows for faster and convenient delivery (Richardson, Leeuw, & Dullaert, 2016). In the four cases explored in the Preposition NPS article, the value of such measures is made clear.

In the case of the Indian Ocean “Boxing Day” Tsunami of 2004 which was classified as a dispersed and sudden-onset disaster, prepositioned disaster supplies would have benefitted the victims significantly (Apte & Yoho, 2011). One aspect of the disaster that highlights the importance of prepositioned disaster supplies is the fact that it was widespread. The expansiveness of the destruction makes it difficult for adequate response to be availed to those in need. It could have been possible to provide timely and necessary response measures had there been disaster supplies located away from the coast but close enough to be provided to the affected areas along the coast (Richardson et al., 2016). The efforts made to move supplies to the affected areas may have helped a significant number of people. However, the general failure was occasioned by mobilization and movement of supplies after the disaster had already occurred. Stockpiling of supplies should have been done prior to the disaster across the countries along the coast.

The Haiti 2010 earthquake was a localized sudden-onset disaster. Because such disasters lack warning, the victims usually require immediate assistance (Apte & Yoho, 2011). The authorities are also found unprepared and are unable to respond adequately. Although the disaster supplies within the localized area would have been destroyed in the Haiti earthquake, had there been prepositioned disaster supplies in the region, it could have been possible to provide the assistance needed by those affected. The efforts to move supplies to Haiti after the earthquake contributed to the failure of the response efforts. It was largely because the supplies were sought from far and those that provided it were not prepared at the time of the disaster (Richardson et al., 2016).

Hurricane Katrina was classified as a localized slow-onset disaster. This means that there was time for the emergency response mobilization to be made and prepositioned disaster supplies readied. There were, however, significant failures in planning for supplies for those who sought refuge in places such as the New Orleans Superdome football arena (Apte & Yoho, 2011). The thousands caught up in the large open building lacked basic supplies such as water and the roof of the building was torn. It took several days for them to be rescued on buses. This highlights the importance of having prepositioned disaster supplies and having plans on how these supplies can be availed to those affected.

The 2009 H1N1 Flu Pandemic was a dispersed slow-onset disaster that affected multiple countries in the world (Apte & Yoho, 2011). There was sufficient time for most of the affected countries to set up preventive measures that would reduce the spread of the swine flu. Medical equipment that would help prevent the spread of the flu is the disaster supplies that should have been prepositioned in strategic places such as airports, country borders, and high traffic areas (Richardson et al., 2016). However, most countries did not preposition the disaster supplies as required and only responded after the disease had started spreading within the pollution. Efforts to move supplies after the disease had started spread contributed to the failure of prevention efforts in most countries resulting in numerous deaths.

Hurricane Katrina: Example of Alternative Action

The Hurricane Katrina disaster which was a localized slow-onset disaster could have had a different outcome had certain actions been taken early enough. The warning was given to the city to evacuate days before the hurricane made landfall (Apte & Yoho, 2011). Many people chose to remain and when the city flooded they ended up stranded, homeless, or killed. The most important goal of emergency preparedness is the protection of life. Rather than ignore those that refused to leave when the warning was issued, the action that should have been taken is a mandatory evacuation. Although there are legal and ethical questions regarding mandatory evacuation, the government’s duty to its people necessitates such measures if the public does not appreciate the risk of impending disaster (Morita, Ando, & Ohtsu, 2019). It is best to err on the side of caution and end up saving lives rather than incurring higher costs of providing supplies to victims of the disaster after the disaster occurs. A mandatory evacuation order should have been issued on time to allow for timely evacuation of the city.




Apte, A. & Yoho, K. D. (2011). Strategies for Logistics in Case of a Natural Disaster. Naval Postgraduate School.

Morita, T., Ando, M., & Ohtsu, Y. (2019). Mass evacuation and increases in long-term care benefits: Lessons from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Plos One, 14(9).

Richardson, D. A., Leeuw, S., & Dullaert, W. (2016). Factors Affecting Global Inventory Prepositioning Locations in Humanitarian Operations—A Delphi Study. Journal of Business Logistics, 37(1), 59-74.



Adil’s Post:


In the Proposition NPS article (found in Course Documents), review the value of prepositioning disaster supplies ahead of a disaster. In each case presented, determine if the effort to move supplies made a significant impact on the success or failure of the event.

According to the Proposition NPS article, many disasters have occurred around the world, and every time they occur, they lead to the death of several people as well as the destruction of property. Some of the natural disasters that occurred include; the Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami which happened in 2004, Haiti earthquake of 2010, Hurricane Katrina which occurred in 2005 and finally the influenza swine-flu which occurred in 2009 (Apte & Yoho, 2011). All these disasters had a devastating impact as it leads to the loss of lives as well as the destruction of property. After the occurrence of the 2004 tsunami, supplies were moved to the affected areas though with a lot of problems. No supplies were pre-positioned before the occurrence of the tsunami. The Haiti earthquake also led to the death of several people. Despite the early warnings, there were no pre-positioned supplies for the emergency. Supplies were delivered with a lot of difficulties after the disaster. During the hurricane Katrina, logistics of supplying goods and services were also a problem. Even though the supplies got to the affected people, they were delivered very late. During the swine flu epidemic, supplies were made to the affected areas easily though there were some challenges.

Select one event and provide an example of an action that would have provided a better outcome for the disaster. Briefly explain how you came to that conclusion

Hurricane Katrina is one of the events that should have been handled differently to reduce its impact. Even though a lot was done by the government of United States as well as other humanitarian agencies, had they prepared effectively for the disaster, they would have helped save many lives as well as property. Before the occurrence of the disaster in New Orleans, there were warnings of a pending danger (Apte & Yoho, 2011). The people around the area affected were warned to move to safe areas but ignored the warnings. They continued to stay in the areas hence after the occurrence of the disaster; the people were hard hit. Emergency teams in the country also didn`t hide to the warning, and for this reason, they didn`t pre-position emergency supplies. As such, they did not respond effectively to the emergency. If the government, as well as the various humanitarian agencies in the United States, had pre-position emergency supplies before the occurrence of the disaster, they would have saved many people as well as improve logistics after the disaster had occurred.  As such, the response to the disaster wasn`t done effectively as a result of poor logistics and lack of effective planning. If all these were done, the situation could have improved (Erdelj, Natalizio, Chowdhury & Akyildiz, 2017).



Disasters pose a great challenge to both people and the government of countries where they occur. An effective response to disasters is very crucial as it helps save a lot of people as well as property. In the event of occurrence of a disaster, massive destruction of property occur as well as loss of lives. For this reason, effective planning and pre-positioning of emergency supplies before the occurrence of a disaster in case there are warnings is very essential as it helps manage disasters effectively.

Apte, A., & Yoho, K. D. (2011). Strategies for logistics in case of a natural disaster(No. NPS-   LM-11-188). NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA GRADUATE   SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND PUBLIC POLICY.


Erdelj, M., Natalizio, E., Chowdhury, K. R., & Akyildiz, I. F. (2017). Help from the sky: Leveraging UAVs for disaster management. IEEE Pervasive Computing, (1), 24-32.


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