Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Learn From Ants For Risk Reduction

Disaster risk reduction is not necessarily rocket science. Some of it is pretty obvious. The hard to understand part is why people keep doing stupid stuff and expecting it to turn out well. This is the kind of behavior that gives FEMA and Red Cross, (NGOs), employees job security. 

One of the cities that I know about that is this way, is where I lived in California. It has a population bigger than the whole state of Alaska has. There are probably more people there now.

That city has no evacuation plan. I talked to four mayors, trying to persuade them to make a disaster plan. The last one spoke to me when she had lost the last election and was serving the remainder of her term. 

She was more frank than the previous mayors had been. She said that evacuation of the town was impossible because of the number of people in town and the limited number of roads out. She said she had been trying to get at least one more road out built, but it was being stonewalled because of NIMBY, (Not In My Back Yard), issues.

The town was on a flood plain. There were a lot of old earthen dams in the hills around the town. The earthen dams were not being maintained. Many areas of the town would not be covered by flood insurance from any but special government insurance. Some areas, the government insurance would not even cover.

People keep buying property in the really bad flood zones. If even the last ditch government insurance will not cover a flood zone, you might think there is a big risk of having a flood there. The flood has not happened yet, but it seems as if it will, eventually.

Other parts of the US have similar situations. People put another mobile home on a site destroyed by a tornado in "Tornado Alley". People rebuild a home that has already been destroyed twice by hurricanes. 

I can see why this might happen in a place like Bangladesh with people so impoverished that they have no other choice. I don't see why it is happening in the US now. 

I had a garden occupied by a large ant hill. Every time I watered it, the ant hill was flooded. The ants would rush around and evacuate all the eggs and other young and the queens. Before I watered again the ant hill would be back in business.

It would be nice to see Americans use their brains enough to do better than ants. I believe we can do it.

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