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Posts Tagged ‘natural disasters’

“Disaster In Japan: Life Correspondent Caught in Fukui Covers Earthquake From Start to Finish,” LIFE. Vol. 25, No. 2, July 12, 1948.  pp. 19-23.

Photographs by Carl Mydans.

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“The reality of disaster is—in general—that if you and your loved ones don’t die, you’ll continue to live. Your life might suck a little or a lot, depending on your context, but mostly on the extent of your means, and I underscore the latter. However, the common notion of preparedness as espoused by authorities in the media and emergency management entities is connected to the concept of resilience—which is the gold standard of human behavior in crisis situations. There is an intense focus in disaster practice circles on figuring out how to “build resilience,” only to neglect the pre-existing strengths of even the most disadvantaged people when it stares them in the face. Further, academics have come to little consensus on what even constitutes disaster, let alone what it means to be prepared for it or to respond successfully. Yet American society still persists in an almost religious belief that preparedness as connected to resilience is the answer to a future problem of disaster. It is not.

Preparedness is an ideology, or fantasy, and never really works in practice, at least as demonstrated in scientific research. This assertion feels scary to many, even to the very scholars and practitioners who understand the science. Yet, scholars in multiple fields that range from artificial intelligence, organizational studies, and disaster research even, have essentially shown that planning and preparedness, as related practices, serve more to provide a framework for human action than dictate it. What matters most, they argue, is ability to adapt in context. Empirical studies on a range of disasters also indicate this assertion is true. For example, I have been to countless practitioner and academic conferences that directly connect a need to bring planning and preparedness practices and connected knowledge, to disaster vulnerable communities. Here, the goal is to pass off information to such groups, like those of little means, as a way to hand the responsibility of response to them so they can make themselves disaster resilient. Again, research on how disasters unfold, and their short and long-term consequences demonstrate this practice is a waste of time. There are many reasons preparedness doesn’t really work—mainly, because preparedness and associated acts of planning cannot account for the dynamic nature of human social life, which is especially heightened in times of extreme stress.”

– Natalie Baker, “Disaster Preparedness Is an Illusion.” The Brooklyn Rail, April 4, 2018.

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“Young and Old Are Victims of Bush Blazes,” Globe and Mail, October 18, 1938. Page 13.

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“Carrying Their Few Belongings, Settlers Leave Their Homes For The Safety of Fort Frances,” Toronto Star, October 15, 1938.  Page 04.

“Flames still shoot skyward in the Rainy River district.  With the wind dropping, hopes are rising that the fire will be subdued before destroying towns and villages near Fort Frances.  Meanwhile refugees continue to pack their belongings (left) bury what they cannot carry and stream to the safety of Fort Frances.  The general scene of desolation (centre) shows a road blocked after flames burned out a bridge.  At the right, inhabitants of Frog Creek are shown as trucks carry them to safety at Fort Frances.  There Hon. Peter Heenan has taken over the tasking of caring for the homeless.  Anything can happen while the fires still burn along the boundary and the firefighters that winds were ill drop further and rain will come to aid them.”

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“Strong Winds Spread Forest Fires,” Globe and Mail, October 14, 1938. Page 03.

“Shading north and west of Fort Frances indicates main forest fire area from latest Department of Lands and Forests information.  Flames are being driven toward International Falls.”

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“First Photographs From Fort Frances Forest Fire Front,” Globe and Mail, October 13, 1938. Page 08.

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