Breaking the Pattern of Hurricane Relief

It has been a record-setting hurricane season, with more severe weather events leading to more large-scale disasters. At the same time, public involvement in disasters has taken a step back.

It was easy to see that there were more than the usual number of hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season went deeper into the Greek alphabet than ever before as meteorologists named tropical storms. Some unlucky cities and towns were hit with hurricane-force winds twice. Hurricanes were not the only weather disasters. Wind, flood, and fire events added to the tally of weather disasters.

Years ago when these large disasters did not occur every year, there was a large collective response which included in-depth news coverage and government action to fund continuity and recovery. With disasters hitting multiple regions at the same time, it would be hard to find the emotional or financial strength to respond on the same scale. To be sure, there is still a collective response, but it is much smaller than it would have been even five years ago.

The rule now is that a hurricane gets major news coverage only if a major hurricane strikes a major city. Similarly, an out-of-control fire that leads to evacuations of 100,000 people does not get the attention of one that threatens a larger population center.

Public intervention is still easily seen in every disaster, but it has more to do with safety, continuity, and public order than with recovery.

Scaling down the collective reaction to disaster had to happen at some point. Half of the world’s population centers will have to move or make major adjustments in the coming years because of sea levels, droughts, floods, and loss of water sources. There is no collective energy that can promise full protection from the harm that will be coming. The greater emphasis will have to be on the more practical steps, such as maintaining communication and getting people to safety.

Fish Nation Information Station | Rick Aster’s World | Rick Aster