Earthquake News

Why It’s So Hard to Be Prepared for Disasters

According to an article published on the website of the Columbia Climate School on March 15, 2023 by Daniella Zandi, Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, who is the Director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Climate School, works to understand and enhance the capacity of the United States to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Schlegelmilch believes that the intersection of social sciences, engineering, and the built environment in disaster preparedness is like a musical symphony, although it is not always harmonious. The center conducts original research, trains individuals, and educates students, whose work informs real-world decisions, such as meeting the needs of children during disasters, helping utilities support community benefits equitably, and informing policies and legislation. Disaster preparedness is a process that must be engaged, not a static point in space and time or an end goal achieved. With earthquakes of a certain magnitude, there will always be damage and fatalities. Long-term investments are necessary for preparedness, but ongoing challenges in countries with geopolitical conflicts and hyperinflation can affect their ability to make such investments. Schlegelmilch believes that disaster risk reduction is often overlooked in favor of disaster response, even though the former offers more significant long-term gains. States do not spend enough on disaster preparedness, mainly because they expect the federal government to pay for most of the disaster costs. To limit the growth of areas prone to natural disasters, Schlegelmilch suggests that we should rethink the concept of "natural disasters" and focus on the built environment's variability that can lead to vulnerability.

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