Storm water reflections.(Major Event Management)(Cover story)

This special report charts the endeavours of CFO Paul Hayden, Hereford and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service, and his 'UK Water Rescue Instructor Team', as a documentary crew follows the team across the US as they experience response options. As FIRE in turn traces the film 'script' of their unfolding story, UK representatives share their expertise and experiences with co-workers within the international rescue and firefighting community.

The Threats

So it is June 1 and 37[degrees]C? Unfortunately not. Today in North Carolina is the start of the hurricane season. So why come to the USA?

Well 20 states, including Hawaii and every state that borders the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, face the threat of hurricanes every year and they are becoming more frequent and intense. In fact, a cover of National Geographic warned: 'Killer Hurricanes: No End in Sight'.

It is not just the coasts that are exposed; the next earthquake or damaging storm is a matter of when, not if. We all need a better system to prepare and protect our citizens, and their property, from natural catastrophe. We can not stop natural disasters from occurring, but I feel that we can do a much better job preparing and protecting people from the consequences, and by researching, especially with people who have suffered the effects, we can all learn from their experiences.

One of the consequences of the growing frequency of disasters for consumers is that insurance is less affordable and less available. The financial-recovery mechanisms, which rely primarily on the private insurance market, do need to be retooled so that they are capable of meeting the immeasurable costs of large-scale natural catastrophes.

In the USA a solution is reported to be gaining momentum in Congress to create a national catastrophe fund, to be financed by private market dollars and actuarially sound risk assessments, intended to provide a necessary backstop for the private insurance market to help families, businesses and communities in extraordinary events. Such a fund would help keep insurance more affordable and available for consumers.

The fund will also help pay for state and federal catastrophe programs to mitigate the damage from future disasters by establishing better land-use planning, improving building codes, strengthening first responders and enhancing home-owner education programs. Perhaps an examination of these suggestions could prove useful for the UK and Europe?

We can not predict when the next catastrophe will strike, but recent history instructs us that our nation cannot afford to wait for the aftermath of disaster to prepare itself for catastrophe. That time for action is now.

Price of a Storm

Reports abound that Hurricane Katrina could be the most expensive catastrophe in American history--the cost to recover from her will probably exceed what America spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. …

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