Madhu Beriwal

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Madhu Beriwal is founder, president, and CEO of Innovative Emergency Management (IEM), originally headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. . (In 2009, Beriwal announced that she was moving the company’s headquarters to North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.) [1]

Beriwal has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Economics. Prior to 1985, she worked for the State of Louisiana coordinating hurricane evacuations. She developed an evacuation plan for the City of New Orleans in 1983. [2] [3] In 1985, Beriwal created a Hurricane Atlas that presents 12 types of hurricane scenarios in Louisiana and projects what the results might be. The Atlas specifically details the potential consequences of a hurricane like Katrina hitting the Gulf—overtaking the levees and devastating the City of New Orleans. Twenty years before Hurricane Katrina, Beriwal’s Atlas correctly predicted residential and commercial building damage, water contamination, and the fact that elderly and underprivileged individuals may be disproportionately affected.[4]

Beriwal is a member of the Army Science Board[5] and a guest lecturer for the Homeland Security Executive Leadership Program at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security. She was also a member of the Defense Science Board’s Task Force for Intelligence Gathering on Terrorism.[6][7] In 2005, she gave the keynote address at the 53rd International Association of Emergency Managers conference.[8] The same year she was an invited speaker on The Urban Evacuation Problem at the 31st Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop.[9]

GOP Contributions

Beriwal is "a big-time contributor to the GOP. She's given thousands of dollars to Republicans, including Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, Louisiana Rep. Bobby Jindal, Rep. Richard Baker of Louisiana, the National Republican Congressional Committee, former Arkansas Sen. Tim Hutchinson. Vitter was the largest recipient of funds from Beriwal." [10]

Emergency Management

Madhu Beriwal, President of Innovative Emergency Management(IEM), had no experience in hurricane emergency management. Yet the Bush administration contracted out New Orleans evacuation planning to IEM. They were paid $500,000 to come up with an emergency evacuation plan for New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. There's nothing wrong here. Big donors routinely get contracts as rewards. It is still their responsibility to do the work right. This is where Beriwal and IEM failed.

IEM spent the money on a hurricane simulation called Hurricane Pam that was marked with bitter in-fighting between state and local emergency management officials and IEM employees over scientific accuracy. Beriwal apparently threatens people who disagree with her [1].

The biggest flaw in IEM's simulation was the assumption that everyone in New Orleans could get out on their own. This was a failure of imagination and leadership.

They dwelled on what can best be described as unusual details. Greg Peters, an IEM contract worker, noted that the company fussed relentlessly over its guest list for the simulation. “You know, they’d sit around asking questions like ‘Do we need someone from the phone company to be here?’” he said. “The answer was yes and so they’d move on: ‘How about the Department of Transportation?’ and so on.” [2]

One insider notes that as with most IEM projects, the Hurricane Pam exercise was put together at the last minute, in a blind animal panic with no time for refinement, testing, or subtlety [a].

They never did come up with an evacuation plan [1]. Over a 1000 people drowned due to IEM's failure to properly simulate a major hurricane hit on New Orleans.

Beriwal is closely connected to James De Witt, former FEMA director under Clinton. James Lee Witt [4], who subcontracted the NY job (and others?) to Beriwal's firm, was FEMA Director under Bill Clinton and later private consultant for Florida's Governor Jeb Bush [5].

Beriwal is the author of the NY Power Authority's Witt Report [3], a review of Indian Point and Millstone nuclear power plant evacuation plans. In an article for September 2003 Homeland Protection Professional [3] Madhu summarizes her advice. "People will be people" she says. Implying they are wary of government authority and will do things their own way - in panic. This is typical of Beriwal's view - if people followed evacuation orders things would go smoothly. She overlooked the reality that people may want to follow evacuation orders, but may not be able to for lack of transportation.

At least 127,000 people in New Orleans did not have their own transportation. If Beriwal had taken this scenario into account, the death toll and human suffering may not have been so great. State and FEMA officials would have been able to anticipate this scenario and make proper plans.

Concerned citizens and Katrina victims should be asking tough questions about Madhu Beriwal and IEM.

This is not the first time Beriwal's company has been taken to task and cited for stupidity. IEM came under fire in 2000 Congressional Hearings when Michael J. Burney, Executive Director of the Calhoun County Emergency Management agency (CCEMA) reported that THE IEM REPORT IS ALSO FULL OF RECOMMENDATIONS THAT DO NOT MAKE ANY SENSE [b].

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