California wildfires: can battle against natural disasters be won?

This New York Times story by Kris Johnson and Jesse McKinley is the best I’ve seen yet on the California wildfires.  It points out that with increased development in high-risk areas, a cycle of disasters is guaranteed.  As the story also observes, the human tendency is to "overcome" the disaster, instead of drawing any inferences about how future conduct might be altered.  An excerpt:

More often than not, the human response after fire is to restore, not relocate, said Thomas J. Campanella, an assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-editor of the 2004 book “The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster.”

“After disaster, people are not in any mood to change further,” said Professor Campanella. “They already had their lives turned upside down, they want to get back to they way it was yesterday — turns out to be a very bad time to have vision.”

On a slightly different topic, you’ve all heard of that FEMA news conference on the wildfires where the stupid softball questions were all asked by fake reporters who were actually FEMA employees, right?  I mean, what where they thinking and why weren’t they all fired immediately? This story says the guy responsible was denied a promotion. That’s it? 

3 Comments

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3 Responses to California wildfires: can battle against natural disasters be won?

  1. Doug Iverson

    I read that he had already resigned from his FEMA job, because he was going to get a better job. He is not getting his better job, and he has already quit. Sometimes you get what you deserve.

  2. Deanne Marino

    David, the picture in the NY Times article says it all–a burned tree framing a new home under construction. There must be many such images all along our coasts–new homes being built in front of the water-marks of previous floods.
    Don’t the people purchasing those homes expect to pay high insurance rates?
    If not, why not?

  3. Doug, I read a couple stories that seemed to say he had left the FEMA job to take the other one, but it’s not clear to me if he went back to the FEMA job, or if he left, that he was forced out. In any event, anyone who would mess around with such a stupid stunt during a time when hundreds of thousands are driven from their homes has clearly stepped way, way over the line and you have to question the judgment not only of this individual but anyone connected in any substantial way.
    Deanne,you make a good point. In a way, it’s kind of like going to San Francisco and being shocked, shocked that homes cost a lot, or going to live in Hawaii and being surprised that gas and food are more expensive.