The recent earthquake in Chile shows how vulnerable a country is when it is facing disaster on a grand scale. While natural disasters are not man-made, the aftermaths and consequences of the disasters often are. Disasters like this call for resilience in all parts of the community, including the infrastructure, the supply chains and society as a whole. Maybe some of my older posts on this blog,  which do not see daylight too often may shed some light on som of the issues surrounding resilience.

Economic Resilience

In a post dated May 2008, I  reported on something very relevant to earthquakes  how to define and measure economic resilience, a paper published by the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), refers to the inherent and adaptive responses to  hazards that enable individuals and communities to avoid some potential losses. It can take place at the level of the firm, household, market, or macroeconomy. In contrast to the pre-event character of mitigation, economic resilience emphasizes ingenuity and resourcefulness applied during and after the event.

Prepare or react?

Another post I can think of are my thoughts after watching the BBC World Debate titled "Disasters - Prepare or React?" The question was, should we actually bother to spend time and money on disaster mitigation, or should we rather focus on preparing for disaster recovery?  Is re-active better than pro-active? Should governments spend large sums of money on mitigation, on building up rescue and recovery capabilities, or should we rather educate people how to survive on their own as long as possible if no rescue arrives, and reduce the impact in that manner ? The basic message was that the government can only do so much, you have to do the rest yourself. On the other hand, the government must also provide the funds and opportunities, the legal and economical framework, for communities to actually prepare themselves.

Emergency Logistic

I should also mention a recent article on Emergency Logistics that looks at logistics and risk mitigation in Thailand following the Asian tsunami, Interestingly, the Thai Disaster Prevention Master plan only implicitly underscores the need for logistics requirements, but does not state them explicitly. On the other hand, local and regional responsibilities for preparedness and response are clearly stated, mentioning that key supplies are necessary, but leaving it up to the local agencies to acquire whatever is necessary, should the need arise. Make do with what you have.

When disasters strike

how does the transportation network recover? That was the topic of a session I attended at TRB 2009 this week last year. Although the session was mainly aimed at US transportation agencies, some key of the points work regardless of location: recovery plans need to be broad, they must include all possible hazard events and all transportation modes. Transportation recovery plans need to look beyond their mere purpose of addressing hazards in the transportation network. The transportation network is essential to many communities. This implies that the restoration of the transportation network also means the restoration of the economy and the society, not just the infrastructure.