Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Kobe, 1995

Todd Crowell: the Kobe earthquake is a better example for comparative analysis to the New Orleans floods than anything else.

«Yet the authorities were caught completely flat-footed when a 7.2 scale earthquake struck. The quake killed 6,433 people, injured about 40,000 and made 300,000 people homeless, some of them for years. Economic losses exceeded $100 billion, or fully two percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.

The government’s response was sluggish and confused. It took Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama nearly 24 hours to decide whether to dispatch troops to Kobe (though looting was fairly low). No clear lines of authority for disaster relief had been established that would permit an effective response.

Nobody complained about the performance of Japan’s equivalent of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the simple reason that Japan had no equivalent of FEMA – still doesn’t to the best of my knowledge. The government couldn’t even declare a state of emergency.»

No comments: