Hope Amidst Hurricanes

Experts are cautiously optimistic about improved US response to emergency management during hurricanes, reports The New York Times. "There's no doubt that we're doing better," Brian Wolshon, a civil engineering professor and evacuation expert at Louisiana State University told The NY Times. The article points to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina as influencing the government's approach to disaster management and relief. "The terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon revolutionized the way American government coordinated disaster response," writes Richard Faucett.

"Katrina stimulated a new and robust conversation about the power of natural disasters, and, more specifically, forced Americans to rethink the growing threats from floodwater." Improvements have been seen in weather forecasting, evacuation, building policies, personal technology and the use of social media.

In the case of recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the shifting approaches to emergency management were seen in the variation in calls for evacuation between Houston and Miami. Improved building codes and upgrades to existing infrastructure, as well as a better trained general public, were credited with saving lives. "Both Texas and Florida probably also benefited from the growth and sophistication of the federal Department of Homeland Security, and the training that even tiny communities have undergone since the Sept. 11 attacks," he wrote.