Changing the Way We Prepare: Lessons from Sandy

Disaster recovery typically involves rebuilding after the disaster has struck. Usually this includes putting things back to the way they were or as close to normal as possible. But the question that must be asked in the ever-increasing ferocity of global climate change is what we should be returning to?

Even with the ever-increasing sophistication of physical barriers to disaster events such as Sandy and the flooding it caused, for example, loss of life and property damage continues to climb. This is mostly a result of the failure of such physical barriers to act as they should in preventing disasters from happening. What is the best alternative in light of these failures of the past?

To some the best response is to develop sustainable designs and technologies. This includes moving those most at risk for flooding to higher ground and to develop green energy technologies that are more sustainable in the event of a power outage. These technologies include passive solar designs and ground-source heat pumps. The technologies are meant to be used year round with real savings a big part of their appeal. So, not only are such communities more prepared to withstand a natural disaster, they are also able to bounce back much more quickly during the aftermath.

With this in mind, it is important to have a response plan ready, as there will be those who still need the help of emergency responders regardless of new community designs. This includes more robust response methods, such as the centers that house central communication centers coordinating response to disasters.

With the cost of such events on the rise, it is imperative that our communities adapt to the changing global climate or risk being annihilated time and again. This includes building toward a new way of doing things, while at the same time still preparing in more conventional ways.

For more information about lessons learned from Sandy, visit: