Disaster Response Goes Global

Hurricane Sandy wrought massive destruction in the New York and New Jersey areas, causing tens of billions in property damage and taking more than 110 lives in the United States alone. In light of the obvious need to find a solution to combat such losses in property and life caused by these new breed of super storms, officials with the American government have turned to other nations to learn how they have dealt with such storms, as compared to our own efforts here in the U.S. In the face of a changing global climate something needs to be done, according to a recent article published by www.timesdispatch.com.

The Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have instituted requirements for state agencies to develop emergency plans in order to receive emergency aid from the government. Emergency aid comes in the form of the Community Development Block Grant program, administered by HUD, and is intended to support local areas in the long-term rebuilding of more resilient structures to help reduce future risks and vulnerabilities. To this end, HUD has turned to the Dutch for help.

The Dutch have long had to deal with the issues of the flooding of the numerous lowland areas of their country and have signed a five-year agreement with Washington to share information on issues relating to weather, including systems used to protect from floods, building with nature, and water management, all areas that have an impact on flood prone areas when hit with a super storm such as Sandy. Minimizing storm effects provide for only half of the equation though. Having recovery plans for a variety of potential disasters in place can also prove crucial. These include droughts, earthquakes, and flooding, to name just a few.

Keeping aware over time and developing partnerships can lend to a higher level of preparedness as well. Only by working together can we assure that when disaster does strike we are as prepared as we can be. Developing common evacuation plans in the face of such storms allow us to funnel the available resources so that they are more effective. This in turn helps the overall recovery effort.

Other countries the U.S. is learning from include Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Chile, among others.

For more information about the lessons learned from other countries’ handling of disasters, visit: http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/columnists-blogs/neal-peirce/disaster-strategies-learning-from-the-world/article_6819c762-3fe7-57e4-b574-9002d0327bb7.html