resilience starts with information
Mexico earthquakes demonstrate how height and distance dictate damage
Two big earthquakes in Mexico last month were a tragic reminder that the country sits atop one of the most seismically active places on Earth. In particular, the magnitude 7.1 Puebla tremor on 19 September demonstrated Mexico’s vulnerability, causing severe damage in Mexico City and taking more than 270 lives.
However, Mexico’s most lethal earthquake remains the 1985 Michoacán earthquake of magnitude 8, which occurred 32 years earlier, to the day, and killed as many as 10,000 people. Strangely, many of the buildings that survived in 1985 succumbed to the tremors from the magnitude 7.1 last month. That’s because the two earthquakes produced different kinds of shaking…
Dunkirk-style evacuation as Vanuatu volcano pollutes drinking water
Vanuatu has launched a Dunkirk-style evacuation on the northern island of Ambae as a flotilla of boats rescues islanders from an erupting volcano that has polluted many of the island’s sources of drinking water.
Crowds of islanders from at least three evacuation points on the island have begun boarding ferries, canoes and commercial vessels for the safety of surrounding islands Maewo, Pentecost and Santo.
Reuters reporter Ben Bohane, on location in Ambae, said he saw people camping on a hillside at the town of Lolowai waiting calmly for ships to ferry them to safety.
“There were big sacks of rice and boxes of tinned fish,” he said.
The eruption has polluted many of the island’s water sources leaving thousands of people in need of safe drinking water, Red Cross delegate Joe Cropp told Reuters by phone on Sunday.
“Water is crucial,” he said. “It’s important to get on top of it right…
Is Australia ready for natural disasters?
Australia would be significantly challenged to respond to, and recover from, two successive storms on the scale of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey that have hit the US in recent weeks.
The recovery costs from Harvey alone, according to the Texas governor, will cost at least $US225 billion ($287bn). The insurance tally for Cyclone Debbie earlier this year has passed $1.4bn, with claims from far north Queensland to northern NSW.
Last year the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities found that $17bn will be needed to directly replace critical infrastructure between 2015 and 2050 due to the impact of natural disasters in Australia.
In 2015 the total economic cost of natural disaster events in Australia exceed ed $9bn. These costs are expected to rise to an average of $33bn per year by 2050.
But the study found that carefully targeted investment in resilience measures now will reduce estimated expenditure by Australian governments on natural disaster relief and recovery by more than 50 per cent by 2050.
Betterment — that’s rebuilding an asset to a more disaster-resilient standard — is rarely undertaken in Australia.
It’s our practice to rebuild damaged infrastructure to its original state after disaster hits, rather making choices that might involve making our roads higher, bridges stronger, relocating rail lines and even, in some areas, duplicating electricity lines. We need to reduce regional exposure by making…