resilience starts with information
Communities Stepping up in the Face of Disaster: Lessons from the Mexico City Earthquake
Recently, Mexico City’s civil society illustrated how an empowered community naturally coalesces and mitigates a disaster’s destruction– ultimately finding itself better prepared and quicker to recover.
While building resilience to major shocks entails strengthening infrastructure, creating effective early warning systems and ensuring efficient government emergency procedures, addressing social stresses is also critical. In case after case, the cities and communities that fare best when disaster strikes, are those where social cohesion is already well-developed, and integrated into the other systems of the city.
With the growing frequency and severity of natural disasters, understanding this becomes even more crucial.
On September 19th, the 32nd anniversary of the tragic 1985 earthquake that took thousands of lives, the region was again shaken by a serious earthquake. That morning, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake left more than 360 people dead, between 150 and 200 buildings destroyed, and more than 3,000 other structures damaged. Mexicans endured the violent earthquake and its damage, and yet also felt emboldened to act rather than retreat. Thousands courageously took to the streets to offer their help. The displays of solidarity and overwhelming kindness surprised the world and Mexicans themselves…
Risky business: when will the threat of natural disaster hit property prices?
In September 1938 a storm hit New York that, meteorologically speaking, was nothing to write home about. By landfall, it had been downgraded to a category-three cyclone. That’s neither particularly strong nor rare — six storms of at least that intensity have been recorded in the Atlantic basin so far this year. And yet, the storm, nicknamed the Long Island Express because it bore down on New York harbour at astonishing speed, remains the deadliest storm ever to hit that part of the US. It killed at least 682 and cost, in today’s money, $5.1bn. Were it to land tomorrow, the damage would cost at least 100 times that amount.“The problem then and the problem now isn’t the wind damage; it’s the storm surge,” says Bill McGuire, Professor Emeritus of Geophysical and Climate Hazards at UCL. “A surge of 12ft would flood much of Lower Manhattan. That’s where some of the world’s most expensive property is; it’s where Wall Street is.”A category-three storm would probably close the stock exchange, he says — Hurricane Sandy did, and that was downgraded to a category-one storm. The subway system would flood, people wouldn’t be able to get to work; there would be major power losses, he says, because the US grid is ill-equipped to deal with it. “Shutting all that down, even for a relatively short period of time: the costs would…