disaster planning

Hurricane Katrina, as pictured in the Gulf of Mexico at 14:45 UTC on August 28, 2005.

Don’t you love your smart phone, giving you information and instantaneous communication in the palm of your hand? But what if cell service, power and internet weren’t there? Remember Katrina?

“Then you have your response, which, if you remember, uh, didn’t go real well,” Kevin Davis, head of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), said, in a masterpiece of understatement. “It was a huge disaster,” he added, quite frankly.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts next month — a time when coastal states have their disaster plans at the ready. Now, the federal government wants states to consider the potential effects of climate change in those blueprints.

States lay out strategies for reducing harm from a whole host of calamities that might strike, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or drought.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, gives states money to mitigate those risks — grants that might help pay for tornado safe rooms, or to elevate buildings in a flood zone, for instance.

For the third year in a row, the Philippines has been hit by a major storm claiming more than 1,000 lives, and the death toll from Haiyan, one of the worst on record, could climb to 10,000.

With thousands of islands in the warm waters of the Pacific, the Philippines is destined to face the wrath of angry tropical storms year after year.

So what can a poor, densely populated country do to mitigate the huge loss of life and the massive destruction?