Everyone wants to protect their loved ones from danger and their property from damage.
One problem with protecting oneself from natural disasters is knowing what threats are most likely, and what to do to protect against them.
Another problem is thinking, "Disasters only happen to other people. It won't happen to me."
Throughout the 1990s, U.S. taxpayers spent $25 billion fighting disasters.
Insurance companies spent $106 billion over and above that in 1990s catastrophes, plus another $6.6 billion were paid through the National Flood Insurance Program, private companies uncounted billions above that, and private individuals still more beyond that.
Those figures do not even begin to account for the heartache of deaths and injuries caused by disasters, or the loss of irreplaceable elements such as established homes and neighborhoods, photographs, and family heirlooms.
Despite those facts and the frequent news accounts of disasters, many people take no steps to protect themselves. Approximately two-thirds of the almost 8 million buildings in identified flood hazard areas-the buildings most likely to be flooded-have no flood insurance. Countless others of the 105 million households in the U.S. remain vulnerable to other forms of disaster-earthquake, fire, hurricane, tornado, severe storms, mudslides, terrorist attacks and more.
But one problem has been addressed. The information about what to do is available. There is now more research about natural disasters, more tested methods for lessening damage from disasters, and more ways of getting that information to people than ever before.
After Hurricane Isabel went though North Carolina, mitigation specialists reached out to the public with information on making their homes and businesses safer. They found many...