Slow-onset disasters have unique recovery issues

Indus river and tributaries, data based on The...

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A recent article titled The Special Pain of a Slow Disaster, NY Times, November 10, raises a number of interesting points that I have not seen before.  I will mention two points – the first is lagging assistance to areas suffering from a slow-onset event experience and the second is that during recovery from a slow-onset disaster the downward trend may accelerate.

Researchers have know for years, that a disaster is usually just an interruption in the trajectory of the economy and general viability of an impacted community or region. But this article adds some details about the special problems resulting from a slowly-evolving flooding disaster in Pakistan. Some of the specifics about the Pakistan situation are as follows:

The water accumulated with the passage of time; it went up not in one hour or two hours but in weeks, he said, recalling the disastrous days in July when the Indus River system flooded millions of acres of Pakistani farmland. The flood plunged the deeply troubled nation into a humanitarian crisis that is likely to set back its development two generations.

Worse, help was equally slow in coming, Mr. Tariq said. There was no sudden rush of aid dollars to help flood victims, most of whom lost everything.

Pakistan was left rather alone in the most devastating flood in its history,” he said.

I strongly recommend that you read the entire article because it contains a lot of new information about long-term recovery from a slow-onset disaster.  Perhaps someone will do some research to determine if the same issues and problems have been present during recovery from slow-onset disasters in the U.S.  One more good research topic.

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