Mitigation = Successful Preparedness, Resiliency and Recovery

Mitigation = Successful Preparedness, Resiliency and Recovery

Disasters have a very significant impact on our Nation and the world. This topic will focus primarily on one specific type of disaster and hazard within the United States, but it does not diminish the impact of this type disaster or other hazards on a global scale and the importance of mitigation world wide.

Hurricanes are recurring events that cause massive destruction. The negative impact on energy, environment, economy, physical and mental health and many other areas after such events are tremendous and deeply far reaching. I will touch on just a few of these and their association with the aftermath of a hurricane.

Energy is expended to manufacture and transport goods, to provide medical care, food supplies, emergency power, personnel and many other things. If you take the time to consider all the immediate efforts and the prolonged efforts, which may be required for many months, to recover from such a disaster you will begin to understand the true depth of the negative impact hurricanes can have on our energy production and consumption, this includes energy produced at home and imported.

Environmentally, hurricanes cause significant damage across large areas (even far inland) which result in enormous clean up efforts and tons of material being deposited in our landfills, not to mention the resulting contamination of our waterways, drinking water, soil and other important environmental concerns. Additionally our natural resource and imported resource use is increased significantly. Just consider all the resources needed and the length of time required to recover from such events and you will realize that the extent of the negative environmental impact, including its contribution to “climate change” is very significant.

Example from Air Force News (Blue Roof Project:

“A team of more than 700 engineers and other volunteers from throughout 41 Army Corps of Engineers districts worldwide wrapped up a seven-month mission to provide temporary repairs to both residential and public building roofs damaged by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, according to Kim Thomas, head of the blue roof operations based in Baton Rouge.”

“More than 81,000 roofs in Louisiana and more than 152,000 buildings within an 82,000-square-mile area stretching from Texas to Alabama received temporary roofing following the two hurricanes that pounded more than 500 miles of the Gulf Coast region.”

o What was the impact on our energy production and consumption, economic costs, resource use and the negative environmental impact of this single effort to aid in recovery from Rita and Katrina?

Economy is impacted on an enormous scale. According to a report by the NOAA pertaining to weather related events from 1980 – 2008, we incurred massive economic loss. “”The U.S. has sustained 90 weather-related disasters over the past 29 years in which overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The total normalized losses for the 90 events exceed $700 billion.” (NOTE: The NOAA report only includes weather events which produced damages of $1billion or greater and does not include events totaling in the hundreds of millions or less than a billion in damage.)

The above excerpt paragraph does not focus specifically on hurricane events; however the report further indicates the estimated damages/costs during hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

(Rita – approximately $16.0 (17.1) billion in damage/costs)
(Katrina – approximately $125 (133.8) billion in damage/costs)

It has been estimated that the United States averages approximately $18 billion dollars a year in economic loss due specifically to hurricanes. (This is a conservative estimate)

Health issues that are both physical and mental can arise in the aftermath of such events. The failure of structures and contamination of the environment can result in short term or prolonged medical problems and even death. The mental impact of being dispersed from your home, your job, your community and even your state combined with economic loss, family loss and many other losses and/or factors can cause significant strain on a victim’s mental state and cause enormous stress.

In the past years as well as currently, our Government, its agencies, programs and research facilities focus on three topic areas; Preparedness, Resiliency and Recovery. These topics are defined as follows:

Preparedness: the state of having been made ready or prepared for action.
Resilience: ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
Recovery: return to an original state.

These are all noble approaches which play a significant role during and after hurricanes and other hazards. However one key topic is missing, mitigation.

Mitigation: the action of lessening in severity or intensity.

By mitigating or lessening the severity of the impact of hurricanes, or other hazards, we directly reduce the negative impacts on energy, environment, economy, the physical and mental health issues, as well as the many other factors associated with such events. In turn we are more prepared for, more resilient and able to adjust to and more easily and rapidly able to recover from these disasters or hazardous events.

Our Government and its agencies should make Mitigation the foundation for all their efforts in protecting America from both natural and man-made disasters and/or hazards.

There should be a purposeful attempt to seek out what causes the most significant damages or produces the most significant negative impact during a hazardous event, then seek out and support mitigation technologies and programs to lessen the severity and impact of such events and finally, implement and/or assist in the implementation of such technologies and programs to reduce the broad impact of hazardous events.

This is a rough and broad draft for the steps to Mitigation:

1. Identify the hazard. (Natural or Man-Made)
2. Identify the “failures” which are the most predominant form of causing significant damage and/or negative impact resulting from the hazard.

Identifying other lesser but still significant “failures” resulting from the hazard. (This step could either be included during the initial step or revisited after the most significant “failures” are “enhanced” and implemented.)

3. Seek out and recognize mitigating technologies and/or programs that have the “potential” to “enhance” the “failures” recognized and have the “potential” to significantly lessen the severity and/or impact of the hazard.
4. Provide support through funding, research assistance and/or by any other legal means for these mitigating technologies and/or programs with a recognized “potential”.

At least to the point that the approach has proven to be ineffective, or is proven unable to provide the significantly desired outcome, or has been proven to be unachievable even with further support or in combination with other technologies and/or programs, or in cases where it has been outpaced by newer and more promising approaches with more significant mitigating “potential” and is thereby rendered as an obsolete approach.

5. Implement and/or assist in implementing the successful mitigation technologies and/or programs which provide the mitigating approach sought for the hazard or which provides a significant portion of the mitigation approach being sought.

By mitigating our threats we reduce what individuals, agencies and many others are required to do; to prepare for, adjust to and recover from the aftermath of a hurricane or other hazard.

Mitigation reduces the negative energy impact, negative environmental impact, the economic loss, the negative mental and physical health issues and other underlying issues in the aftermath of a hurricane or other hazard.

Mitigation also reduces the Physical, Natural and Man-Made resources, energy expenditures, economic expenditures, medical resources and the many other underlying requirements needed to recover from a hurricane or other hazard.

It should be clear that Mitigation = Successful Preparedness, Resiliency and Recovery.

Some or possibly all the funding and staff for these Mitigation efforts could come from diverting funds and staff members from various Agencies, Facilities, Programs and other areas, in whole or in part, who are performing and/or funding technology research and/or developing programs or have implemented programs which have a funding history with only nominal results in mitigating hazards.

Who knows, with the correct focus and the purposeful resolve to support the Mitigation of our threats, the generations that follow in our footsteps will think of what we once considered as a disastrous event, as merely an annoyance which requires very little recovery or no recovery at all.

Faron L. Akins – Chairman/ CEO
North American Innovation & Manufacturing Corporation

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