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Lars Anderson on planning for ‘radical resilience’ to disaster

by Lars Anderson 

This is an excerpt from an opinion piece by BlueDot Strategies’ founding partner Lars Anderson, a former FEMA official and crisis management expert. The piece was featured on CNN.com.

Hurricane Harvey was a one-in-1,000-year flood event, yet a few weeks later Hurricane Irma is barreling towards Florida as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. These events follow a record 2016 which saw three devastating 1-in-1,000-year flood events in the United States: a separate flood in Houston, another in West Virginia, and a third in Maryland.

Just a few years earlier, we were hit by Hurricane Sandy, which was a one-in-700-year event.
We are living through a historic shift: there are more natural disasters, they are coming more frequently, and are fundamentally altering our economy and the way we live.

We can no longer view natural disasters through the singular lens of “disaster — recovery.” Rather, a complete paradigm shift is necessary. We must adjust to this new norm of major natural disasters by paying radical attention to resilience.

Certainly, discussing future preparedness in the middle of a crisis seems off the mark. But that, actually, is part of the point: America is often at its best when it’s being challenged. From confronting world wars to reacting on 9/11, Americans have been clear-eyed ready to hear what needed to be done to prevent a tragedy from occurring again.

Here today, the public is ready to respond to the immediate disaster, but also needs and wants to hear the reality of what must be done moving forward. Our elected officials must be honest about the changes the nation needs to make as a result of climate-related disasters. …

Read the op-ed in its entirety on CNN.com.