Professor Of Police Science, John Jay College Of Criminal Justice
- Communities with high risk of natural disasters, such as urban waterfront areas, should develop and practice emergency preparedness plans that include an assessment of the risk and mitigating factors as well as consider community recovery.
In the paper, “Emergency Planning for Urban Waterfront Areas––For Effective Disaster Management in First 48 Hours,” Haberfeld and her co-author discussed risk and mitigating factors for urban waterfront areas during natural disasters. The authors maintain the importance of emergency preparedness, regardless of the type of unforeseen events, from terror attacks to natural disasters. Risk factors help individuals prevent and manage potential danger such as natural obstacles (soil prone to floods, shifting tectonic plates) or structural issues (heavy traffic or proximity to hazardous materials). Waterfront areas in cities are susceptible to both types of issues as they are highly trafficked areas with large quantities of water and are densely populated. Factors that can mitigate the effects of risk factors are largely structural (building sand dams and earthquake-proof buildings) and also include advance emergency plans with simple directions (clearly numbered and articulated lists). In cities on the waterfront, mitigating factors can include alternate routes of travel to shelters and the addition of wider roads to accommodate disaster traffic patterns. The authors note the importance of having emergency preparedness, which needs to be clearly communicated to support teams in advance of a disaster. This includes a redundancy plan that allows multiple back-up options should any support system fail, general assembly areas for the public to gather safely, and succession plans that delivers clear instructions for support personal to follow. Additionally, the authors emphasize the value of having logistics in place to rebuild structural damage and plans to re-open roadways to recover more quickly. Finally, after a disaster, creating plans to manage the damage of disasters is important for cities and must be flexible as the damage and the resiliency of the people must be taken into consideration. In conclusion, the authors note that in addition to having plans, communities must knowledgeable and practice their emergency plans to keep communities safe during and after disasters.