“We have entered a new era of catastrophes. Either we pretend they will not happen to us, or we join forces to make resilience a national priority.” This is the call to action from Zurich North America and the Wharton Risk Center’s recently released white paper for the Hurricane Katrina 10-year observance, Beyond Katrina: Lessons In Creating Resilient Communities. Building resilience is a complex challenge, requiring actions from governmental bodies, business owners, non-governmental organizations and individuals. The paper discusses resilience strategies put in place since Hurricane Katrina, and offers several solutions to help create better prepared communities going forward. Some of its recommendations include:
- prioritizing flooding as the paramount risk, as it affects more people than any other type of disaster;
- devoting more resources to preventive measures rather than post-event disaster relief, because every dollar spent on disaster risk reduction saves five dollars in future losses;
- and overcoming current infrastructure vulnerabilities. Katrina showed us very clearly that many buildings, bridges, dams and levees are incapable of withstanding severe windstorms and flooding, which puts both people and property at high risk.
Beyond Katrina also included comments on hurricane risks and preparedness from Dr. Tim Reinhold, IBHS’ senior vice president of research and chief engineer, and discusses how IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home™ and FORTIFIED Commercial construction standards are models for stronger building practices in areas vulnerable to severe weather.