By Jeanne Meserve
Isaac may be a big and dangerous storm, but it will not be another Katrina. No way. Katrina chewed up large chunks of the Gulf and spawned the flooding of New Orleans, but the failure to properly prepare and respond compounded the tragedy. This time there will not be people abandoned in nursing homes and hospitals to die. Evacuations will be called early, with accommodations for people without transportation.
By Jeanne Meserve
With the recent heat waves and storms that have impacted millions of people throughout the United States, much is being written about the nation’s inability to prevent and recover quickly from destructive events. I am not yet ready to start placing blame – there are lots of things I should have done to be prepared. Individual responsibility leads to community preparedness. Here are some thoughts the disruptions bring to mind.
Events of the past decade—including 9/11, the anthrax attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic—have shown that public health and emergency management efforts are interconnected and often overlap in time of crisis. In a report just released by our Preparedness, Response, and Resilience Task Force, we believe that the legacy missions of public health and emergency management must be synchronized for disaster preparedness and response efforts to be effective.
It is always difficult to fully absorb the lessons from wide-scale crises in the wake of the catastrophe. Information is often incomplete or contradictory, or still evolving. Learning these lessons, however, provides an opportunity to address the shortfalls of catastrophic disaster response.
In Security Debrief’s annual April Fools coverage, we’ve collected some stories the rest of the media somehow missed.
I have to admit, when I got the e-mail notice that DHS Secretary Napolitano had established the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience, I went, “Huh? What’s this about?” I drew a complete blank at the name, but then remembered – Rick Rescorla was an American hero long before he safely evacuated over 2,700 Morgan Stanley employees from the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001. DHS and the Secretary got this absolutely right when they selected Rick Rescorla as the namesake for the resilience award.
Major disasters are relatively rare in Cyprus. Other than a magnitude 6.8 earthquake in 1996 that did not result in any casualties (but was the largest since 1953), annual wildfires and droughts, the island nation has generally avoided the brunt of manmade or natural disasters. But alas, tranquillity breeds complacency. In 2011, 98 containers of improperly stored explosives exploded in Cyprus with devastating impacts on human life, infrastructure and the Cypriot economy. Now is the time for Cyprus to address the hazards it faces.
By Jay Alan
The one-year anniversary of the Tohoku Japan earthquake brings renewed attention to the devastation and the vast recovery still facing the Japanese people. Our hearts and thoughts remain with the victims and families. But the tragedy should underscore the need for us to maintain focus, from an emergency preparedness perspective, not only to earthquake danger but also the danger of a tsunami. Yes, even in the United States.
By Jay Alan
At some point during my day I can usually see the scaffolding atop the landmark National Cathedral here in Washington, D.C. — a reminder of damage from the August earthquake. And a reminder that disaster can strike anywhere at anytime. We all know and preach the doctrine of preparedness, but building resiliency and knowledge takes time. This effort takes another great step forward on Feb. 7. The Great Central U.S. Shakeout will occur at 10:15am CST, with (as of this writing) 1.7 million people in nine states practicing the ‘duck, cover and hold’ earthquake drill.