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Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards: Obstacles and Opportunities for Local Governments Under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

March 2008

Citation: ELR 10171

Author: Anna K. Schwab and David J. Brower

Editors' Summary: The term natural disaster is a misnomer. As Anna K. Schwab and David J. Brower note in this Article, disasters do not occur naturally, they occur only where humans have placed themselves in the way of natural hazard events. Therefore, decisions about the way human environments are initially constructed can mitigate the effects of natural hazard events. They distinguish between resistance and resilience, explaining that attempts to resist forces of nature by trying to contain or control nature itself have largely been unsuccessful. By contrast, resilience efforts, such as hazard avoidance, environmental preservation, and education and outreach, reduce vulnerability to natural hazard events. The authors explain a range of resilience techniques and discuss hazard mitigation planning under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.

Anna K. Schwab is the Planning Coordinator of the Hazard Mitigation Planning Initiative, a joint project of the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. David J. Brower is a Research Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of City and Regional Planning. [Editors' Note: This Article appears in the book Losing Ground: A Nation on Edge, edited by John R. Nolon & Daniel B. Rodriguez, published in 2007 by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). The book can be ordered by either calling 800-433-5120 or logging on to the ELI website at http://www.eli.org.]

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