After recent major hurricanes, such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damage, disaster experts have become increasingly aware of how important it is that coastal residents are fully educated and well-prepared to deal with such emergencies. Now, two of the country’s leading disaster preparation and responsiveness experts are making a public call, challenging the nation’s emergency response managers to do a better job of educating coastal residents about the dangers posed by hurricanes.
Concerns Raised at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando
At a recent conference held at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Craig Fugate – head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said that local officials should include hurricane disaster preparedness funding in all relevant costal development proposals. He called for the implementation of policies which would not only help local residents to become more prepared to deal with hurricanes and their immediate and long term aftermaths, but which would also create jobs and additional tax revenues in the process.
Fugate also contended that such preparations would be best implemented by the private sector and not by the local governments themselves.
National Hurricane Center Weighs In
Adding to Fugate’s assessment, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb told emergency management professionals that many residents who live on the Gulf coast and East coast don’t even know whether or not they live in a zone that is susceptible to hurricane damage.
He also pointed out then many residents in such zones do not know the difference between the damage caused by a hurricane’s winds as opposed to the damage caused by the storm surge. The storm surge tends to be far more dangerous, but has historically been far more difficult to predict. Knabb believes that a new color-coded map system, to be deployed by the hurricane center this year, will help residents better identify areas which may be in danger of deadly storm surges in the event of a hurricane.