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How COVID-19 Made Us Better
Prepared for the Next National Crisis

The Council on Foreign Relations recently reported that, “COVID-19 has underscored several truths about pandemics and revealed important shortcomings in current global and national capacities to prepare for, detect, and respond to them.” And perhaps the most interesting finding from this group was that preparedness metrics were not predictive of success at containment of the current pandemic.

“Existing metrics for pandemic preparedness and health system capacity do not reflect the full range of variables, including implementation, that affect a country’s response to a severe pandemic.” While the virus has little in common with a hurricane, unpredictability is one of the biggest factors in how successful our responses can be to these events.

But the pandemic has pushed us all to ask questions that we hadn’t thought to take seriously before: Is our vaccine supply chain flood-proof? Do we have the ability to shelter evacuees safely if a hurricane strikes during the pandemic?

For all the cracks this crisis has exposed in our local and national response systems, it’s given us the opportunity to improve our level of preparedness for whatever crisis comes our way.

While there are few things we in the flood space can do to impact the pandemic response, we can advocate for homeowners to ensure their properties are ready for the next crisis. If you’re not sure if you have the right flood insurance policy, explore your options today.

COVID-19 Was a Stress Test on Our National Emergency Response Systems

Your flood risk determines the financial and structural protection you’ll need for your property. But flood risk is complicated: it’s changing for every address in the country. 

On a global level, climate change is increasing the intensity of storms, the frequency of rainfall, and sea levels – which has resulted in millions more Americans facing the effects of flooding every year.

Researchers have identified that dramatic rise in America’s flood risk: data from First Street Foundation reveals that as many as 70 percent of American homeowners have a flood risk not represented in FEMA’s flood maps. That risk will keep growing as climate change worsens. 

FEMA continually updates its maps to reflect accurate risk models and the impacts of climate change. If you haven’t checked in a while (or ever), check out your current flood risk.

How the Pandemic Underscored the Importance of Individual Preparedness

As cities and states have managed the bulk of governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to date, Americans have been left to determine how best to proceed for themselves: mask or no mask, stockpile cans or dine out. As we look toward the arrival of a number of potential COVID-19 vaccines, you may wonder what you can do while you wait. While there’s little individuals can do to influence large-scale preparedness, you can make sure your home and safety are well accounted for.

“In a disaster, everything is exponentially worse for everyone,” says Germán Parodi of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. So, it’s important to make sure you have the food, water, medicine, and shelter that you need. Especially if you have a disability or are at high risk for medical issues, you need to have contingency plans for everything from flash floods to the next pandemic.

“People with disabilities are the last forgotten,” he says. And they are among those most at risk when the coronavirus and natural disasters collide.

To prepare for the next disaster, compiling your health, home, and flood insurance policies into a safe and accessible location can make a tremendous difference in accessing the information you need when it’s time to start thinking about recovery the day after a storm or a hospital visit. In flood insurance terms, this means that people need to be properly insured. And the first step in this process is to get to know your flood risk today.

We Need to Prepare for the Next Storm and the Next Pandemic – Today

No one wants to read this today, but there will be another pandemic. And the next hurricane season may be worse. And as the weather becomes less predictable and more extreme, pandemics may be harder to manage. This year saw 30 named storms, breaking the old annual record set in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

The World Health Organization is already advocating for better emergency preparedness so that we can all be ready for the next disaster. The good news is that this should be easier than ever, with the abundance of new technology for contact tracers and innovative gene mapping tools that support vaccine development efforts.

For those of us in the flood industry, we’re seeing similar, if less immediately impactful changes in our field that are shepherded in by new technology. The imminent arrival of Risk Rating 2.0 and the improvement of online insurance quote engines, homeowners are better positioned than ever before to get a handle on the risks they face.

To start preparing for the next disaster, check your flood risk today.

How the Right Technology and Education Can Power Disaster Preparedness

Back when the Spanish Flu hit in 1918, we didn’t have smartphones or even the idea of the internet. If there’s any reason to be optimistic about where we will all find ourselves next year, it’s that we have incredible technology at our disposal, which we can use to do everything from tracing an individual’s contacts from the past 48-hours to assessing the likelihood that your basement will flood in the next five years.

As many of us have been forced to adopt mobile tech for the first time – at work and at home – we are seeing an acceleration in just how much we can do to mitigate the impact of many types of disasters.

We’re finding out what the best ways to motivate people to prepare for the next disaster are. We’re learning how we can improve the virtual adjustments process for quicker claims reimbursement and property owner recovery. We’re learning that we have the tools to do flood preparation and recovery better.

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