Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response

Climate Implications - Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response

Climate change impacts are already occurring across the United States and they are only expected to increase in the future. One of the most damaging impacts resulting from climate change is the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters. Low-income, minority, and historically underserved populations are disproportionately affected by these extreme weather events.

The Midwest is especially prone to droughts, extreme heat, and flooding. Such extreme weather events are projected to intensify over time and affect all communities from tribal to urban. USEPA estimates that the economic loss from these extreme events will reach $6 billion per year by 2090.

The two most crucial activities occurring as a part of disaster management are disaster preparedness, which occurs before disaster strikes, and emergency response, which is a post-disaster measure to alleviate impacts.

As extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity, existing preparedness and response measures might not be suitable or sufficient. Existing plans might not account for the ways in which more frequent and intense climate impacts can impair community response.  Existing plans might also be reliant on outdated or inaccurate data; planning processes often rely on past flood level or temperature data instead of climate projections. These discrepancies can result in plans that do not adequately prepare communities for potential impacts.