2018 Hurricane Ca5 Florida

How do we make disaster recovery better

June 5, 2019 – Hurricane season is June 1st – November 30th.   Hurricane season for Florida begins June 1 and stretches through November 30, according to the National Hurricane Center. The names for this year’s hurricanes have been selected from the World Meteorological Organization using 2013 names exception of the name Ingrid which has been retired. It has been replaced with Imelda. Names are replaced when the costs or loss of life is “so high that future use is considered insensitive.” Other hurricane names that have been retired are Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate from the 2017 season.

Florida home falls into the ocean; part of Irma aftermath

Today the Dwellers at Dwell Nona Place received an email reminding us about the importance of preparedness and the ominous potential for disaster to come. The letter said, “If the authorities issue a hurricane warning for the area, the management team will leave the community.” No one can blame them for leaving as they are here to do a job which does not include hurricane prevention. 

No one could prevent a hurricane from barreling down any path it decides to go whether on the coast or inland.  Dwell management’s warning went on to say, “Under a hurricane warning, it is important that you comply with recommendations and instructions, which may include evacuation, issued by the local authorities. The management team will return to the community at such time when conditions permit.”  In other words, if you decide to stay at Dwell, you are on your own.

Florida Hurricane Aftermath

During the last hurricane, my granddaughter and I stayed at Dwell, which worked out for the most part, other than being trapped on the fourth floor of our building for a couple of days.  We were prepared with water, food, and other necessities.  Best of all, T-Mobile cellular service was live throughout the hurricane, and we had enough supplemental batteries charged to keep our mobile phone and computer going. Of course, we were not ordered to evacuate either.

Responding to disasters globally

In general, as human, we do well at responding to disasters in other parts of the world. Something inside us seems to kick in and want to help automatically. In most cases, we simply open our wallet and leave the heavy lifting up to someone else.  It must be the skilled news videos showing in real time the horrifying aftermath of tsunamis and earthquakes devastating villages and towns in areas we hardly know anything about that tears at our hearts.

I visited many of these countries when I was young.  The people are poor, but they are welcoming.  My friend Kimberly from church commented the people are hard-working and resilient in countries (for example, Mexico & South America) where disasters often happen.  If mother-nature tears down a village or town, the people build it back with the help of the resources they are provided.

With the aim of “protecting development investments and ultimately building people’s resilience,” the United Nation’s Development Program and the World Bank have partnered to help to ensure efforts in Third World Countries are improving after disasters.  Additionally, to ensure their disaster investments are protected.  These organizations work with the poorest nations in the world, and lift-up people who live in poverty by working to provide them with sustainable solutions.

It is critical that disaster-prone countries establish the necessary institutional, policy and budgetary arrangements before a disaster occurs, while also strengthening their capacity for coordination and implementation. Photo: Andrea Ruffini/UNDP

In our own country and territories, the United States’ approach in deprived areas of the country and our territory of Puerto Rico has been a “disaster on top of a disaster.”  Areas such as Louisiana, parts of Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico have proved that the grease moves very slow when people are considered of another “culture, “or as hard as it is to say of “forgotten ones in our own country.”  People who come from places where there is horrific poverty, hunger, and people with no hope in their eyes. .

As we face down hurricane season once again, in the United States which is one of the wealthiest countries on the face of the planet, people are still trying to recover from the last three hurricanes going all the way back to Katerina which occurred in 2005.  People like launched a Gulf Coast Child and Family Health Study interviewing people from 1079 displaced households between 6 and 12 months after the storm.  Since then he has tracked their survivor path over time, although he did not initially expect his study would go on this long.

Two years later, Mark VanLandingham, Ph.D. met David Abramson, Clinical Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, who is one of three social scientists leading a project called Katrina@10. David looks at long-term predictors of resilience.  Their findings show poor, predominantly black families on the cheaper property in lower-lying areas faced disproportionate damage from Katrina—and [had] a harder road to recovery. But with the passage of years, the paths of survivors have diverged in complex, hard-to-predict ways. “Initially, I thought that those with the least would do the worst,” Abramson says. “That wasn’t always the case.” 

Abramson has “a hunch about one factor that will rise to the top, based on unpublished data from his cohort [population group], which started off in those FEMA trailers.” What he predicts makes absolute sense,:

The faster you move somebody into stable housing, the faster, more accelerated, and more durable their recovery will be.”   

Personally, I do not believe anyone should wait for any more data.  We should stop moving those awful trailers all over the country at the cost of $150,000 over 18 months.  David Abramson says that recovery programs would do better to “invest in more durable housing for evacuees rather than provisional camps,” which makes total sense from an economic perspective.

Disaster recovery camp of FEMA Trailers

We need to look at alternatives that will solve the future rather than temporarily patch the present problem. We keep doing the same thing that does not work in big disasters spending millions or billions of dollars that could be invested in the future.

Read here about how Panhandle Florida is talking about Cat5 hurricane recovery in 2019.

I hope you enjoyed the read. What did you think?