The sheer speed and scale of this incident certainly caught everyone off-guard.
Although it might seem impossible to have effective contingency plans in place to deal with such a disaster, a flexible plan is better than no plan at all.
Crises are the opposite of 'business as usual' and people need to be prepared for the unusual and unexpected.
Through all stages of the emergency, people want to know what areas are affected; where they can get help; what assistance is being provided during the clean-up; and what lessons have been learned to enable them to be better prepared next time. A post-crisis evaluation will also need to be conducted.
The local government must show leadership and, through the media, show it is in charge and dealing with the situation in a proactive manner. The increasing popularity of social networking media means this type of incident receives a great deal of exposure very quickly, so those in charge need to show they are in control and on top of the situation.