Governments across the world are looking at building resilient structures to counter the destruction caused by sudden change in climate triggered by nature and human interferences.
“We, in the US too face disasters, which lead to loss of life and property and the government has decided to look at climate resilience with solutions that could prevent extensive damage,” said Amy Chester, managing director, Rebuild by Design, New York.
Chester, an expert on building, planning designing, who works with the US government on disaster resilience, said Kerala could customize solutions for climate disasters. “After Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in several states five years ago, the government called for experts to pool in ideas and projects for building weather-resilient structures,” she said.
A disaster-resilient authority has now been set up in each state affected by disaster. “They sit in the same building which also has city/town planners and are involved in designing and constructing structures that address issues of inundation and flooding,” she added.
Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states in the US. The US coasts have always been vulnerable to tornadoes and hurricane events, she said, adding: “But it was only when they struck cities like New York that the disaster assumed horrendous proportions. Power and water-lines are switched off. We don’t store water in homes. So, when power goes off, people living in tall apartments, for example in in the 30th floor, are totally cut-off. Often, there are children and old people who have no access to any facility. It was decided to build the first-line of community response system. The volunteers, very local, are expected to reach out to each and every house with medicines. However, the biggest planning was done with regards to building structures. “The government sent out requests to people seeking help from all to plan designs for building structures.”
She said the selected ideas were presented at a gathering of experts. Once they were approved, the groups were asked to present the ideas in the particular locality, where they were supposed to be implemented.
When it came to designing, officials and scientists were flown in to work with them and models were presented before local communities and stakeholders.
“If you live in a place, which is likely to get inundated, restrictions will be imposed, for example on the height of the buildings, as in, to three floors. Sometimes, they will be told to leave the ground floor unoccupied. It should be left open to allow water to flow in between,” she said.
Climate change is a reality, she said. “When I left for Kerala, there was a severe heat wave. Two days later, I was told that it is raining heavily,” she pointed out. Chester was in Kerala to participate in a series of workshops ‘America with Kerala’ jointly organized by the US consulate, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority and the Centre for Public Policy Research.
This news was published in The Times of India on August 25, 2019 Click here to read