The images from Hurricane Sandy are jaw dropping. From flooded subway stations, waterfalls into the Ground Zero area, destroyed piers, boardwalks and homes, Hurricane Sandy – “The Frankenstorm” – was a big one that Mid-Atlantic States, New Jersey and NYC have long feared. Right now, we don’t know the full costs in lost lives or destroyed infrastructure and homes, but we do know this – it’s going to take some time to get things back to any sense of normal in the affected regions.
For anyone alive eleven years ago, September 11 will always be a date on the calendar when you immediately remember where you were and what you were doing when all hell broke loose. History records many unforgettable days, but as the rawness of that day’s memories ebbs, the lessons learned continue to ripple in many ways. In the discussion on safety and security, one of the often-overlooked aspects is the impact that day had on business.
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.
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.