Natural disasters have been a subject of fascination, fear, excitement and discovery for scientists and citizens alike. The past decade, even just the first half of 2015 has revealed potential weather changes as a result of climate change. Both emergency communications and weather information systems are at the forefront of these needs to prepare for both human dangers and natural disasters.
In the US, after the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, we assembled the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help respond to such disasters and occurrences. On an international level, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) has devised a 5 tier priority system to rank governments based on threat level to national security. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) specializes in planning for what is commonly referred to as “disasters”, and what they refer to as “hazards”. A natural disaster is defined by the UN as: “the consequences of events triggered by natural hazards that overwhelm local response capacity and seriously affect the social and economic development of a region.” The following summarizes the HFA.
Create a local and national risk reduction policy by a strong institution that is feasible to implement
Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks that these hazards may cause and enhance or implement early warning systems
Inform and educate culture on vulnerabilities, common warning signs and consequences
Reduce risks present from changing social, economic, environmental conditions, land use, etc.
Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels: individual, communal, regional
In 2004, we integrated into 12 terminal workstations in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) - Caribbean. These islands operated an important, albeit outdated, network of weather stations and aviation weather terminals.These forecasting systems are important in SIDS due to the imminent threat of natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts and earthquakes. Additionally, now that El Niño/ Southern Oscillation (ENSO) approaching in the next year, we will witness extreme droughts and heavy rainfall throughout the Caribbean.
Smaller economies, and more of an emphasis on tourism and agriculture prevent these small islands from recovering fully from natural disasters. Addressing local disaster policies is difficult; however the Caribbean states are taking action; last summer the Caribbean Development Bank launched a trust fund that provides grants to address local disaster risk, climate change vulnerabilities and risk reduction needs of each community. CDB hopes to better reflect local priorities and increase community ownership, involvement and supervision of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation activities.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, states that the more “businesses and civil society understand risk and vulnerability, the better equipped they will be to mitigate disasters” when they occur. Morcom understands the risk, and is alleviating the damage from these hazards. We continue to install more advanced and novel forecasting equipment in Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope that by aiding these less developed nations, these disasters will become hazards that are more manageable.