2011’s Natural Disasters Costliest Ever – But There’s A Surprising Upside

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According to a report by the United Nations that’s seeing a lot of screen time today, worldwide natural disasters in 2011 were the costliest ever . . . by a lot.  In fact, according to the secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, it was a whopping two-thirds higher than the previous most expensive year, 2005 when Katrina hit the southeast U.S.

But according to the AP report, that same special representative also says that “Despite the rising costs . . . deaths from disasters are proportionally declining because countries are getting much better at instituting early warning systems and preparedness measures.”  [Emphasis added.]

Fukushima on Japanese TV after last year's historic tsunami. Photo: culturalnews.com

According to ImpactReady Business Continuity Program Manager Ed Schlichtenmyer, despite the tremendous cost, it sounds like lessons really are being learned.  “The key takeaway is that early warning and preparedness measures are having a positive effect on life safety. With the rapidly increasing trend in economic losses,organizations should apply those life-saving early warning measures to ensure the resiliency of their businesses, too.  Integrate early warning triggers into emergency response and business continuity plans and then practice executing those plans like your business depends on it . . . because it does.

“Following the terrible tornado outbreaks of last week, there are reports of banks, pharmacies and grocers somehow managing to open for business.  Seeing footage of the devastation, it seems impossible that anyone could return to business so quickly.  But those who choose to make readiness a part of their culture – through planning and practicing – are providing much-needed services to their communities.”


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