Friday, March 9, 2012

UN: 2011 was Planet's Most Expensive Year In History for Disasters

According to the Associated Press, the UN is reporting 2011 was the planet's most expensive year in history for disasters.  Central to those numbers were the earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan.

To read the article, click here.

Comment: As previously reported on this blog (see: NOAA - 2011: Bad Year for Weather Related Disasters), the United States was not spared from the carnage.  2011 was the nation's worst year on record for the economic damage caused by weather related disasters.  However, what the press fails to do in reporting these stories is give consideration to ways to hold down the costs from these events.  Probably the single best example in that regard is the apples to apples comparison that is available for flooding in the Red River Valley.  In 1997, floods in the valley caused $3.7 billion dollars in damage.  In 2006, floods of the same magnitude caused $6.5 million dollars of damage.  What caused the dramatic change in cost?  Following the 1997 floods, a cooperative effort between North Dakota and FEMA used HAZUS-MH to plan mitigation efforts throughout the valley.  The value of using GIS as a mitigation tool is evident in the results.  Unfortunately, its a story that often goes overlooked, not only by the press, but by many political leaders and decision makers as well.  "We can't afford that fancy geospatial stuff".  No, its the other way around.  You can't afford to NOT have that fancy geospatial stuff for mitigation planning, situational awareness, more efficient dispatch, disaster response, etc., etc. etc.

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