By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest
This year, the world has seen a couple of truly devastating hurricanes and typhoons that have left behind a wake of serious damages and lost lives. Hurricane Dorian – a Category 5 storm – left a couple of the Bahamian islands uninhabitable.
Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.
According to National Public Radio, Typhoon Hagibis last weekend left about 50 persons dead in Japan. The rains from the typhoon – one of the worst to strike Japan in decades – broke 10 levees that flooded a number of communities, NHK World reported.
These powerful storms had devastating effects. In such cases, we’re often left wondering how could these disasters happen again and again when everything we understand about massive storms indicates that we need serious mitigation and preparedness efforts?
While mitigation is clearly a way for governments to effectively manage hazards in their communities, mitigation efforts can be particularly costly. More importantly, mitigation is associated with risk. But if the risk isn’t there, there really isn’t a reason to spend a lot of money on a mitigation project.
Take Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When that hurricane hit town, dozens of levees were overrun and collapsed, flooding large areas of New Orleans. Why didn’t the levees – built specifically to guard against flooding – hold? The city did not spend the money needed to strengthen them further because of the high cost and low risk of a major deluge.
The High Costs of Storm Mitigation Efforts
It isn’t clear what the mitigation efforts were taken regarding the affected levees in Japan. According to National Public Radio, Typhoon Hagibis was the strongest to hit since 1958. That lengthy period might suggest that the risks associated with major hurricanes were not at the forefront of local government mitigation policy discussions.
Mitigation efforts, regardless of the country’s emergency management programs, are expensive and can be complicated by societal and governmental factors. That can make it difficult for mitigation programs to roll out effectively. In short, mitigation practices are a complicated web of practicality, budgets, and risk management.
Examination of Preparedness for Typhoon Hagibis Will Expose Mitigation Problems
As more information emerges about what happened in Japan when Typhoon Hagibis struck the island nation, some of the problems leading up to the storm will become apparent, particularly where preparedness and mitigation are concerned.
Like so many other storms before it, understanding Hagibis and the factors that contributed to the tremendous damage will be invaluable lessons for emergency management experts and practitioners as they continue to study and make recommendations to prevent future such devastating events.