National Preparedness Month Blog: U.S. Disaster Preparedness and Resilience: Recommendations for Reform

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, along with the Pennington Family Foundation, has published a new report titled, White Paper on U.S. Disaster Preparedness and Resilience: Recommendations for Reform.

According to the report, the United States faces a growing number of natural disasters which present "a variety of challenges for the nation – spanning the spectrum from federal to state to municipal and community levels – and its disaster response, relief, and recovery architecture. On average, the United States experiences ten severe weather events per year exceeding one billion dollars in damage, compared to an annual average of only two such events throughout the 1980s."

Additionally, the country is confronted not only with a growing number of disasters, but also an increase in the costs of response, relief, and recovery efforts. Since 2010, the U.S. government has spent an average of $85 billion per year in response to these extreme weather events – more than double the average yearly spending from 2000 to 2009.

This report outlines several recommendations which "provide guidance for those officials who want to make meaningful forward progress to bolster U.S planning, partnership, and capabilities to address the real, localized, and oftentimes devastating effects of natural disasters."

Among the recommendations are actions for the executive and legislative branches, as well as for public-private partnerships. These include:

  • Increasing the collection, analysis, and distribution of disaster-related data and information
  • Establishing a framework to suspend or ease federal policies
  • Revising the Stafford Act to include a "catastrophic disasters" designation
  • Devoting resources to develop and strengthen connections and build relationships
  • Increasing the focus on the preparedness and resilience of small businesses

"As the United States faces the continued threat of future disasters and rising costs, it is important that the nation take measures to ensure that it is as prepared and as resilient as possible. Looking forward, there are numerous opportunities for reforms to executive branch policy, legislative action, and the growth of public-private partnerships. With focus and drive, the United States can achieve new levels of preparedness and resilience that will help to limit the physical and financial effects of future disasters and better protect the American people."

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