Chapter 3. Understanding the Unimaginable: Why Collective Sense-making Failed

One of the most perplexing features of this disaster was how uninformed public authorities appeared during that first week: it took almost 24 hours for most officials to understand that New Orleans had flooded, fedderal authorities did not seem to know the difference between the Superdome and the Convention Centre, and many officials had no clue about the deplorable situation in hospitals, the desperation in outlying areas, or the actual level of violence in the city. Even though much information was available, government organizations at all levels could not put the pieces together and thus did not understand what was happening on the ground. This chapter explains why all the pieces of the puzzle were not put together.

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