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Unpredictable, High Risk, High Cost: Planning for the Worst Is the Worst

Ben Brown takes a hard look at our capacities and limitations in a world more complex than we’d prefer.
August 24, 2016, 11am PDT | Hazel Borys
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NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured this image of Hurricane Sandy along the U.S. East Coast on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

"So here we go again. Flood waters rise in southern Louisiana, displacing tens of thousands — some temporarily,  others permanently — and potentially costing billions."

"The familiar narrative cycle has cranked up. Right now we’re emerging from the stage where we celebrate the heroism of citizens, volunteers and emergency responders and question the competency of the feds. Next comes the rough accounting of damages and the fights over  funding, then the agonizing slog towards a recovery unlikely to ever be complete. Finally will come a lessons-learned wrap-up that could be copied and pasted from reports post-Camille, post-Andrew, post-Katrina, post-Sandy and post a bunch of other recent calamities without a name."

"How to be ready for the next Big One? Better communication at all levels of emergency response. Better advance warning systems. Better ways to prevent folks from living in harm’s way. Same old. If there’s something different this time, it may be this: An increasing uneasiness that we have spent down our capacities for denial, along with the resources required to cope with repetitive disaster. And there’s no turning back."

Ben Brown has been intricately involved in the post-Katrina recovery, as well as the BP Oil Spill. He gives a candid review of new politics for a new normal.

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Published on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 in PlaceShakers
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