Sunday, January 17, 2010

Economic Impacts of Disasters

I spent the day visiting a small urban centre that experienced a major disaster last year. While the community infra-structure was protected and any damages repaired with the assistance of well established government programs, little has been done to assess or address the damage done to the businesses of the area. There appears to be an absence of assistance for business revenue issues that result from natural disasters.

This particular area is subject to isolation due to flooding on a regular basis. In the past there have been attempts at economic recovery assistance (interest free loans).

While it is tempting to look at this as a recovery issue and design a solution to address the financial losses, it really goes to community resilience and even long term sustainability of the community. I was warmed to hear the various business owners talk about their challenges but focus on the long term solutions and not just ask for compensation. These community leaders want improved mitigation and not money.

The challenge of course will be to prove that mitigation will (in the long term) be the least cost solution.

There are more meetings scheduled and I will post follow ups later.

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