Lessons for Building a Better City After a Devastating Disaster

With climate change producing more extreme weather, the likelihood of a natural disaster impacting the world's cities is on the rise. New members of the 'disaster club' can look to these three places for lessons for turning tragedy into opportunity.
August 9, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and snowstorms can land with a harsh and terrible swiftness, killing people, wiping out roads and leveling businesses, hospitals and homes," says Liz Farmer. "It’s likely to get worse. Scientists who study meteorology warn that climate change will only increase the severity of some extreme weather events in the future, namely flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes."

"Obviously, there’s little comfort in the devastation of a natural disaster, but essential to the idea is that in disaster there can be opportunity. Millions in federal, state and local disaster dollars can be leveraged into billions in additional investment from the private sector. That approach, however, takes more time, a lot of patience and a dose of creativity. Tuscaloosa; Greensburg, Kan.; and San Francisco all learned how to turn local tragedy into a new and vibrant vision. Their lessons on leveraging funds, dealing with local sentiment -- the longing to replace rather than remake -- are a playbook for local officials dealing with today’s disasters." 

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Published on Thursday, August 1, 2013 in Governing
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