In hurricanes’ aftermath, signs that U.S. disaster response has improved

As recovery begins in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, experts are seeing signs that lessons learned from past disasters mitigated some of these powerful storms’ devastating effects.

“It’s no accident,” Richard Serino, distinguished visiting fellow at the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School and former deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said in a New York Times article published September 12, 2017. “We’ve been training people for this for the last 16 years.”

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 catalyzed action toward updating the nation’s disaster preparation and response, including improving weather forecasting, evacuation policies, and resistant building practices.

Serino said that the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey demonstrated the importance of residents’ contributions to disaster response. “Now we’ve seen images of neighbors helping neighbors,” he said. “They’re the real emergency medical workers.”

NPLI Director Eric McNulty and a recent graduate of the program, Brian Hastings, director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, also spoke with the media about the response to Hurricane Irma.

Read New York Times article: Amid Chaos of Storms, U.S. Shows It Has Improved Its Response

Read BuzzFeed article quoting McNulty: Irma Wrecked The Caribbean Islands And Rebuilding Could Take Years

Read NPR interview with Hastings: As It Sweeps Northeast, Irma Loses Power But Still Causes Problems

Learn more

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Funding local organizations best way to support Hurricane Harvey survivors (Harvard Chan School news)