Guest Post: Complex lives make for complex disasters

Guest Post: Complex lives make for complex disasters

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Guest Blogger

Editor's Note: Veronica Taylor is a consultant specializing in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. She previously worked with The Patterson Foundation to help deepen its understanding of the disaster space. As a guest blogger, she will cover issues relevant to the disaster sector. 

In my second blog on this site, way back in January of 2012, I questioned whether we were having more disasters or if I was just unlucky enough to be in the path of many of them.  Although many people blame it on global warming, come to find out – there are a lot of other reasons.  Unlike global warming, I think we can all agree on the following reasons.

1)    Continued population shifts to vulnerable areas – People love to live near the water – oceans, the gulf, lakes, rivers – all those place that are vulnerable to flooding, wave surges, and erosion.  We love it so much that we reshape the geography, building fingers in the bays and rerouting rivers with damns and other man-made structures.

2)    Economic development impact of change – The economic development that accompanies those shifts also intensifies the pressure on coastal floodplains, barrier islands, and the ecosystems that support food production, the tourism industry, and suburban housing growth.

3)    Demographic changes – The changing patterns in the way we live impact the way we prepare, respond, and recover from disasters. Think about:

  1. The growing population of people with disabilities living in communities instead of institutions.
  2. The growing senior population due to the Baby Boom generation.
  3. The growing population of people living with chronic diseases (e.g. obesity and asthma).
  4. Continued immigration trends that are diverse both ethnically and linguistically.
  5. Changing employment trends that affect home-to-work commuting patterns and business preparedness.
  6. Increase in homeless population.

4)    Technology changes – even technology is making disasters more complex to manage. We are so reliant on high tech communication, finance, and processing, that when the technology isn’t available, we become paralyzed.

We may have more disaster events, but I believe it’s the complexity of our lives that makes these disasters more complex.  That is why we need to take the Whole Community Approach to disaster response and recovery. Thoughts?  Let’s talk –

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