We can learn a lot from disasters, and we now know some areas don’t recover
CONVERSATION MEDIA GROUP
Natural disasters were once regarded as a problem for the developing world, with reports of these rarely leading the news. Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy punctured that insularity in the US thanks to a malevolent combination of extreme weather events and population growth – especially in highly inappropriate places like storm-surge zones. Elsewhere, seismic events struck the heart of major cities such as Christchurch and Kobe where the cities’ structures were woefully ill-prepared.
Away from the big cities, though, disasters can still be “over the horizon” events. Remoteness from centres of economic and political power impedes long-term recovery. Some towns never recover. Rebuilding small communities on the same site in the same way seldom works. Instead, this lengthens the recovery or prevents it happening altogether. Disasters hit rural, remote and small fringe communities particularly hard. The impacts range from property and infrastructural damage, deaths and injuries, stock, crop and other agricultural losses to destruction of wildlife habitats and even iconic landscapes. In some places the local economy may consist of little more than one or two “industries”. Examples include Marysville in central Victoria (retail and hospitality and still not recovered from the Black Saturday bushfires of February 7, 2009), Wilcannia in western New South Wales (arts and crafts), and Malanda (timber) and Millaa Millaa (sugar) in north Queensland. The economic resilience of these towns is wafer-thin. These small places are less able to respond quickly to disasters because they are not critical parts of the global economic infrastructure and have a less powerful political voice. They also have less capacity to tap into the human capital and material resources of larger, more recognised centres.
Living in the danger zones
The simple dichotomy between rural and city, though, is becoming muddied. Particularly in the developed world, once-isolated regions are undergoing urbanisation. “Sea-changers” and “tree-changers” are moving in unprecedented numbers from cities in Australia and the western US to non-metro and peri-urban areas prone to storm surge and fire.
ARTICOLO COMPLETO: https://theconversation.com/we-can-learn-a-lot-from-disasters-and-we-now-know-some-areas-dont-recover-71008
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