SRL on “The Fantasy of Disaster Response: Governance and Social Action During Hurricane Sandy”
SRL members Max Liboiron and David Wachsmuth have recently published an article on “The Fantasy of Disaster Response: Governance and Social Action During Hurricane Sandy,” in the Sandy-themed issue of Social Text Periscope.
Governments make disaster plans. Between municipal, state, and federal level agencies, the amount of planning for potential disasters is enormous. But during Hurricane Sandy, plans that took several years and millions of dollars to produce were thrown out almost immediately. In fact, discarding disaster plans is entirely normal, and may even be desirable…..The regulatory and jurisdictional challenges that motivate disaster planning are very real. Many first responders, including those in Occupy Sandy, are calling for flexible guidelines and best practices for the inevitable “next time.” How can we be more reflexive and deliberate about the roles that plans—whether fantasy or ad hoc, flexible or rigid—play in emergency mitigation and adaptation? Here we suggest a distinction between short-term and long-term recovery. Long term recovery—a task that requires external resources to be channeled to the devastated locale and requires coordinated action over multi-year time-scales and across jurisdictions—is well suited to government planning. Crucially, this includes climate change mitigation, which can certainly be classified as disaster planning in the twenty-first century.