Professional groups urge incoming administration to take new approach to natural hazards
WASHINGTON--A group of organizations concerned about staggering human and economic losses caused by natural hazards is asking the incoming administration to take a new national approach to disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires.
Led by the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), more than 30 cosigning organizations want the Bush administration to make natural disaster reduction a national priority and take specific steps to build the country's resilience to natural hazards.
Natural disasters are taking a tremendous toll on the country. For example, 1992's Hurricane Andrew resulted in 61 deaths, hundreds of thousands homeless, and more than $23 billion in damages; the 1993 Midwest floods displaced more than 50,000 and created losses of nearly $21 billion; 1994's Northridge earthquake resulted in 65 deaths, 12,000 hospitalized, and $45 billion in damages; and Hurricane Floyd in 1999 triggered the evacuation of 4 million people and drove more than 10,000 into shelters. These four events alone caused damages of over $100 billion.
"Property destruction and business disruption due to disasters now rival warfare in terms of losses," the group reported in a document now being distributed to the Bush transition teams and members of Congress.
The group predicts that the incoming administration will face disasters carrying price tags ranging from $10 to $100 billion, such as regional water shortages costing at least as much as the gasoline-price increases of 2000, multiple power shortages due to weather extremes, and military operations compromised by severe weather and other hazards.
What can be done to build our resilience? The group has nine
specific recommendations. First and foremost, the administration
should conduct a national assessment of community vulnerabili
National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research