Natural Hazards

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Losses resulting from natural hazards—including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and wildfires—cost billions of dollars each year. RAND research has shown how long-term loss-reduction strategies and disaster preparedness could improve the resilience of communities and infrastructure in the face of natural disasters, resulting in less property damage and reduced rebuilding costs.

  • Aerial photograph of the devastation caused in the greater New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina, August 30, 2005, photo by Vincent Laforet/Pool/Reuters

    Blog

    Planning for a COVID-19 Hurricane

    May 4, 2020

    What if Hurricane Katrina had hit during a pandemic? Emergency planners can prepare for this scenario by evaluating current response system capacity, evacuation and sheltering procedures, food and supply issues, and more.

  • A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Getty Fire as it burns in the hills of West Los Angeles, California, October 28, 2019, photo by Gene Blevins/Reuters

    Blog

    A Climate Scientist's Brush with Wildfire

    Dec 18, 2019

    RAND researcher Robert Lempert was evacuated from the path of a wildfire. This experience emphasized for him the challenges of adapting to climate change, not merely because it is hard, but because it makes the familiar become unfamiliar in unexpected ways.

Explore Natural Hazards

  • Global climate change visualization

    Commentary

    Adapting to a Hotter World

    Because climate change is largely irreversible, mitigation alone won't solve the problem. While mitigation will prevent even greater, future climatic changes, adaptation — efforts to adjust to climate change's effects — will prepare the world for a new set of living conditions, whatever they may be.

    Oct 2, 2015

  • New York, NY, USA - October 31, 2012: NYPD police emergency response vehicle parked in the streets of Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York, NY, USA, on October 31, 2012.

    Tool

    Partnerships for Recovery Across The Sectors (PRACTIS) Toolkit

    The Partnerships for Recovery Across The Sectors (PRACTIS) toolkit employs a survey, a quality improvement guide, and a recovery exercise to strengthen disaster recovery partnerships between local health departments and community-based organizations.

    Sep 15, 2015

  • Local residents take pictures as U.S. President Barack Obama visit an area reconstructed after Hurricane Katrina during a presidential visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, August 27, 2015

    Commentary

    What Hurricane Katrina Taught Us About Community Resilience

    Hurricane Katrina left a path of destruction, death, and suffering in its wake. Its recovery, halting and incomplete as it has been, has taught us valuable lessons about resiliency.

    Sep 8, 2015

  • Tourists walk past the entrance to the Hurricane Katrina Memorial, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 23, 2015

    Blog

    Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years After the Storm

    This weekend marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. As the region struggled to cope and rebuild after the storm, RAND experts worked on solutions to the region's long-term challenges.

    Aug 27, 2015

  • Nepalese military personnel and international rescue crews check on a collapsed building after the earthquake in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 12, 2015

    Commentary

    Another Nepal Earthquake Makes Disaster Relief Planning Even More Important

    Leadership, coordination, communication, and involvement of local stakeholders are critical to an informed response to natural disasters. Improved disaster management in Nepal could help limit the suffering of impacted communities and help secure a more successful recovery in the long run.

    May 13, 2015

  • Nepal military personnel sits next to relief supplies at Gorkha district office following Saturday's earthquake in Gorkha, Nepal April 30, 2015

    Commentary

    Nepal Earthquake Response Shows Need for Better International Planning

    The U.S. provided supplies after the earthquake in Nepal, but they piled up at points of delivery because Nepalese customs authorities insisted that standard inspections be followed, even in an emergency situation. These kinds of bureaucratic challenges can be more easily overcome if they are identified and addressed before crises arise.

    May 7, 2015

  • Residents clear debris as they look for their belongings from collapsed houses following Saturday's earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal, May 1, 2015

    Multimedia

    RAND Experts Discuss Nepal and Preparing for Natural Disasters

    RAND researchers Jonah Blank and Anita Chandra, as well as Margaret Traub, head of Global Initiatives, International Medical Corps, participated in a media conference call on Tuesday, May 5th, to discuss the recent earthquake in Nepal and the many facets of preparing for natural disasters and dealing with the outcome.

    May 5, 2015

  • Flood waters from Hurricane Isaac partially submerge homes in Lafitte, Louisiana neighborhoods in August 2012

    Commentary

    Future of Coastal Flooding

    President Obama's executive order that directs federal agencies to plan and build for higher flood levels as they construct new projects in flood-prone regions will affect hundreds of billions of dollars of future public works projects. In an ideal world, planners would estimate the benefits and costs for each project, taking into account everything from the details of the local landscape to the potential for adaptive responses over time.

    Feb 25, 2015

  • A bulldozer is parked in the Queens borough of New York where a concrete foundation is all that remains of a house that burned to the ground during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012

    Report

    Lessons Learned from Implementing Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines

    The Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force developed guidelines to ensure that federal agencies incorporate key principles of resilience into their formulation, evaluation, and prioritization of infrastructure investments related to Sandy rebuilding. An initial assessment of the implementation of the guidelines identifies opportunities and challenges.

    Dec 9, 2014

  • Seismograph instrument measuring ground movement during earthquake

    Testimony

    Catastrophic Risk in California: Are Homeowners and Communities Prepared?

    Predictions about the inevitability of a major earthquake in California is generating concern about how to pay for rebuilding after a catastrophic event. Insurance alone isn’t the answer, but exploring ways for insurance premiums to better reflect loss could help homeowners prepare for "the big one.”

    Aug 6, 2014

  • Testimony

    Building on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review to Improve the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the Department of Homeland Security: Addendum

    Document submitted on July 18, 2014 as an addendum to testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency on June 20, 2014.

    Jul 18, 2014

  • two firemen responding to an emergency

    Commentary

    An Enduring Need for Better Measures of Emergency Preparedness

    In an era of fiscal austerity, the need for measurement and assessment becomes manifold. Tied to good government goals and responsible stewardship of public funds, measurements are also necessary to educate the public about what it should—and should not—reasonably expect when disaster strikes.

    Jun 25, 2014

  • U.S. Representative John Carter (R-TX) and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Capitol Hill

    Testimony

    Improving the Effectiveness and Efficiency of the DHS

    If the Department of Homeland Security is to overcome the challenges of uncertain threats and budget constraints, it will need strategic focus to direct resources where they are most needed, strong oversight to assure that resources are used effectively, and cooperation across government to improve efficiency.

    Jun 20, 2014

  • young people holding hands in a circle with the sun setting

    Multimedia

    Building Resilient Communities: Spanish Translation

    Emergency preparedness can get you through the first few days following a disaster. But how can your community bounce back over the long term? With disasters becoming more common and costly, and with some areas enduring multiple disasters, the importance of building community resilience has never been greater.

    May 20, 2014

  • 415 Superscooper aircraft

    Commentary

    Fighting Fires From Above

    A newly deployed airborne firefighting resource is helping the United States Forest Service (USFS) battle wildfires, while at the same time providing valuable lessons on the utility and cost effectiveness of water-dropping scooper aircraft.

    May 15, 2014

  • Research Brief

    How RAND Supported the Development of Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan

    To plan the rebuilding of the Louisiana coastline, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority used a new analytic approach, developed in part by RAND, that incorporates results from state-of-the-art predictive models within a decision tool to formulate and compare alternatives and visualize outcomes and trade-offs for policymakers and stakeholders.

    Mar 18, 2014

  • News Release

    Tools Can Help Policymakers Increase Coastal Resilience to Rising Seas and Storm Surge

    Two key analytic tools can be used to evaluate how coastal protection and restoration decisions made now will play out over time, even given an uncertain future.

    Feb 21, 2014

  • Louisiana coast and levy

    Report

    Tools Can Help Policymakers Increase Coastal Resilience to Rising Seas and Storm Surge

    Two key analytic tools can be used to evaluate how coastal protection and restoration decisions made now will play out over time, even given an uncertain future. For example, a community weighing whether to implement a marsh-building project can see how the project fares against different rates of rising sea levels over time.

    Feb 19, 2014

  • A Hellenic Air Force Canadair CL-415 drops water over a forest fire northeast of Athens in August 2009

    Commentary

    Investing in Firefighting

    While the U.S. Forest Service has not completely agreed with RAND's proposal to transition to a fleet dominated by water-dropping scooper aircraft for fighting fires, they have leased one CL-415 scooper aircraft. It might be more cost-effective for the USFS to simply purchase it outright.

    Dec 30, 2013