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  • Stephen Jordan

Deja Vu Disasters

Stop us if you've heard this before - some of the worst wildfires in California's history, a ferocious storm hitting Louisiana, social unrest and rioting after police violence, and oh yes, Covid-19.

Hurricane Laura, a ferocious category 4 hurricane gets set to pummel southwest Louisiana 15 years after Hurricane Rita.

In California, the state is now contending over 650 wildfires, including two of the three largest in recorded history - repeating the experience of 2018 and 2019. Iowa is still picking up the pieces from the derecho that struck Cedar Rapids with the force of a category 2 hurricane.

Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago and other cities continue to experience civil unrest from Black Lives Matter protestors in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday. The NBA playoffs were postponed after the the Milwaukee Bucks started a boycott on Wednesday that was quickly joined by athletes in the WNBA, MLB, and MLS.

And of course, Covid-19 continues to afflict the nation and complicate everything.

Three take-aways:

(1) The incidence of repeat disasters shows that the current system of reacting to

disasters does not work. The country needs to move to a resilience model where

communities budget and plan on an ongoing basis for risk management.

(2) The current urban unrest is not just due to police violence or racism, it is due to

systemic failures in urban development that have accumulated over time.

(3) Empirically, crisis response has improved significantly over the years - despite

the scale and enormity of the fires, floods, and hurricanes, emergency managers are

doing better than ever at saving lives and reducing casualties. On the other hand,

the social and economic costs of extreme events continue to escalate.

Interested in learning more about ISD's resilience, disaster recovery, and sustainable development tools, information and workshops? Please email

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