As disasters have grown in frequency and severity, the costs of response and recovery have escalated to unsustainable levels. Obligations through the Federal Disaster Relief Fund ballooned from 2.8 billion in 1992 to 34.4 billion in 2005 due to damages associated with the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. The most effective way to reduce these excessive losses is through disaster preparedness and mitigation. To best achieve this goal, we need to pursue two objectives:
1) Break the disaster-rebuild disaster cycle. Merely repairing substandard infrastructure and elements to their pre-disaster condition does not protect the community from future disaster damages or reduce long-term costs. Mitigation improvements should always be considered in the rebuilding process, utilizing a multi-hazard approach whenever possible.
2) Ensure that communities address natural hazards. Comprehensive plans should acknowledge all hazards that pose a risk and identify steps to avoid those hazards altogether or incrementally reduce a community’s exposure to its hazards.