Risk Management and Reduction (from Chapters 2 and 5)

Finding: A variety of complementary structural and nonstructural measures exist to manage disaster risk. Risk management is, at its foundation, a community decision, and the risk management approach will only be effective if community members commit to using the risk management tools and measures available. Examples from actual disasters and their aftermaths, such as the June 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids, show that implementation of risk management strategies involves a combination of actors in local, state, and federal government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), researchers, the private sector, and individuals in the neighborhood community. Each will have different roles and responsibilities in developing the risk management strategy and in characterizing and implementing measures or tools, whether structural or nonstructural, to be added to the community’s risk management portfolio. Some strategies can be implemented over the short term, whereas others may take a longer time.

Recommendation 2: The public and private sectors in a community should work cooperatively to encourage commitment to and investment in a risk management strategy that includes complementary structural and nonstructural risk-reduction and risk-spreading measures or tools.

The portfolio of tools should seek equitable balance among the needs and circumstances of individuals, businesses, and government, as well as the community’s economic, social, and environmental resources. Among the most promising actions that would achieve results are in the areas of building codes and standards, and insurance.

Steps for Implementation:

Federal agencies, together with local and regional partners, researchers, professional groups, and the private sector can develop an essential framework (codes, standards, and guidelines) that drives the critical structural functions of resilience. Furthermore, cooperative work between the public and private sectors can encourage investment in nonstructural risk reduction measures such as insurance premiums; such premiums can include multiyear policies tied to the property with premiums reflecting risk. Specific focus on (a) building codes and standards and (b) insurance carry promise toward implementing this recommendation.

Finding 2a: Building codes and standards are effective in mitigating and reducing disaster risk to communities. For example, research and practice have demonstrated the value of building new homes to code and to increased standards in areas that may experience high winds or hurricanes. Of 13 homes built to a Fortified standard (Fortified standard is an increased building standard—above regular code—developed by the Institute for Business and Home Safety) on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas, before Hurricane Ike, 10

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