Being exposed to a natural hazard event is stressful. These stressors can last long after the event has passed and if another event comes along in the meantime, the stresses build. We have reported many times on the research into the effects that such events can have on mental health and the flow on effects into substance abuse, violence and physical health issues. There are more reports on this phenomenon in this issue but also some good news about how these impacts can be reduced.
The Australian Red Cross is reporting that its research shows that the more prepared people are for a disaster, the less stressful it is and the lower the short term and long term mental health impacts. But we also report that preparedness is not one-size-fits-all. The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has published its Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC) which has been developed to measure social, human, financial, physical and natural sources of resilience in communities so that resilience programs can be developed to target the gaps and short comings.
The other good news is that although the number of weather-related disasters have increased over the past 50 years, the fatality rates have decreased mainly due to technological advances in forecasting, warning and communications.
Here’s hoping that these advances can outstrip the rate at which development on floodplains and climate change are poised to push outcomes in the other direction.