The Failure of “Reactive Response” During a Disaster

The relief and response model for coping with disaster is a dinosaur of ages past. Gone are the days of only responding to a disaster after it has happened. In a world of changing climate, it is imperative that the steps necessary to mitigate the effects of a disaster include pre-disaster preparedness, according to Some disaster experts point the finger at government officials for failing to implement legislation to promote proactive response to disaster relief and recovery.

A big step in accomplishing a more proactive disaster preparedness plan is to determine the different levels of disasters and then define the roles and responsibilities of local, state and federal officials. Also, defining how a disaster will impact an area according to its size or severity allows for the allocation of resources appropriate to the emergency. Having all the key assets and players in place before a disaster strikes is key to efficiently responding when time is literally of the essence.

A lesson can be learned from Pakistan, which has always shown the desire for the implementation of a more proactive disaster management plan, but has done little in the way of making such a wide, sweeping change happen. People, in general, grow complacent in the aftermath of such disasters, all too soon forgetting the lessons of the past. Oftentimes, it is only once disaster has struck that a cry goes out for reform, only to fall back to business as usual.

This, in turn, has created a culture of unpreparedness, or in some instances, the creation of separate governmental departments with the same function. The result? In the end, none of the departments are effective, as it is uncertain who is exactly supposed to do what. The devastating 2010 flooding in Pakistan is evidence of the failure to allocate resources to those who needed them most. Eventually, recovery oftentimes falls to the military, and once the disaster and the initial public outcry are over, circumstances revert to the status quo … at least until the next disaster.

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