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Home > Natural Resources > Disaster Resources

Why Aren't We Better Prepared for Inevitable Disasters?

Americans seem unwilling to prepare for the inevitable.

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Donald Cohen, Executive Director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, a San Diego-based research and policy center, reminds us that across America -- in rural and metropolitan areas alike -- our infrastructure is crumbling, our public agencies are understaffed, and our equipment is outdated.

Despite a history of regular disasters -- earthquakes, hurricanes, bridge collapses, and fires -- Americans seem unwilling to prepare for the inevitable. This may have something to do with our skepticism about government -- at least when it comes to things that can't be justified as fighting terrorism. But the response of government agencies to the recent fires in San Diego tells a different story. There, the firefighters, police, EMTs, and other emergency personnel performed efficiently and heroically. The public officials -- at the local and state level -- who coordinated the firefighting, rescue, and relief efforts, worked well together.

Even FEMA -- the federal agency that bungled the response to Katrina because of the indifference and incompetence of top Bush administration officials -- showed up quickly and announced it would begin collecting relief applications.

San Diego's new communications systems -- especially the widely-heralded "reverse 911" system that made thousands of calls to residents warning them to evacuate -- was developed with Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Homeland Security grant funds.

What occurred in San Diego tells a bigger story. Preparing our nation for future disasters requires government at all levels to provide the resources we need to save lives and property. State and local officials have a responsibility to identify the resources we need and to mobilize the public to pay for them.

Will the recent fires in Southern California, (October 2007) which cost 14 lives and more than $1 billion in property damage, be a wake-up call about the nation's need to better prepare for what are misleadingly called "natural" disasters -- not only fires, but also earthquakes, hurricanes, and bridge collapses? Of course, nature plays a big part in most of these calamities, but human action can prevent some of them from occurring in the first place, and dramatically reduce the human and financial costs of many others.

The tragic losses from San Diego wildfires, Hurricane Katrina, and the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota expose a troubling neglect in our nation's infrastructure. We have the technology and know-how to fix this problem. What we seem to lack is the political will.

SOURCE: Read the complete article at Huffington Post

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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