OK, while the quote applies to natural disasters, I'm no Charles Dickens. I'll move on. That said, the response to the following question has placed people clearly on two different sides of the issue of rebuilding after a natural disaster:
Here's the question by an author of a Washington Post article writing about the recent (May 2018) "repeat" flood in Ellicott City:
There's the question--my question! Here are the two sides.
On one hand hand there are those who say:
"In the era of climate change, the “business-as-usual” approach for addressing flooding is no longer an option. Current federal policies create an unsustainable “flood, rebuild, repeat” situation for managing the nation’s flood risks. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, while extreme events, laid bare the holes in our nation’s ability to prepare for and adapt to a growing number of large-scale natural disasters. We are now seeing more severe storm events, rising sea levels, and more people moving to vulnerable coastal areas. The impacts and associated damage costs from floods will only continue to increase without reform. The Trump administration and Congress must pursue policies that make America safer and more resilient to flooding."
First, the combined frequency and cost of events over the years.
NOAA then provides an interactive look at the largest disasters, highlighting in color the ones with the most significant impact. Their recent occurrence tells the same story.
Finally, a graph depicting the CPI-adjusted cost of events over time, again with the same recent (and largest) events highlighted.
I've talked in these pages about the reasons for changing frequency of such events (e.g., climate change), but I also wonder if the dramatic increases in cost might be attributable, in part, to the increased density (and vulnerability?) of our built environment.
No matter the reasons, finding solutions to reducing physical vulnerability is, in my opinion, the single most important aspect of building our community resiliency in the face of overwhelming damage and destruction. In other words, if we can find ways of creating physical communities that are less prone (either by location and/or design) to damage from these events, the increased frequency of the events becomes less important. And we can, as societies, turn our resilience efforts to restoring functionality and community spirit, rather than working and paying to rebuild homes and businesses.