Hurricane Preparation in the Age of Sequester

When it comes to hurricane season, coastal areas have to make decisions on how best to prepare. How will recent sequester cuts impact the ability to predict hurricanes? So far, this has not been an issue, but with hurricane season just starting, it is only a matter of time before the safety of those in the path of such storms could pay the price.

The most telling area is that of storm prediction. With the National Weather Service (NWS) having to cut 10% of its staff, and furlough days on the way for its meteorologist, one wonders if they can keep up the level of reporting necessary to give those living in coastal areas the information they need for evacuations and determining what exactly to expect from such storms. This is especially important in light of global climate change, which has made such storms even more ferocious and deadly in recent years.

FEMA has been hard-pressed to respond adequately. With over $1 billion in cuts due to the sequester for the rest of the year, they will be stretched to match the level of support following such events in years past.

The best way to deal with deadly hurricanes going forward involves how we rebuild after the event. A few things that should be kept in mind when rebuilding after a catastrophe include:

Find a Balance

Find a balance between your short-term, intermediate, and long-term needs. When dealing with a crisis, such as a hurricane, tornado, or flooding, community managers have to first make sure more immediate goals have been met, such as housing for those displaced. And keeping a long-term plan in mind is key to effectively managing current and any upcoming disasters. If all preparation is reactive as opposed to proactive, then when a big storm hits in the future, the community might not have access to the resources they need to recover.

Build to Withstand

When rebuilding, make sure future buildings can withstand the strongest storms. There is no point in rebuilding in the same fashion just so a future hurricane can come in and knock down or damage what was rebuilt in its place. This includes using durable materials and engineering designs to help resist storms going forward.

Consider Relocation

A final consideration that some might find tough involves the decision to relocate. Some areas are prone to flooding and are too much of a risk when building there. If the insurance companies won’t insure the property against further damages, then home and business owners should seriously consider moving premises to an area less inclined to flooding.

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