Episode 4 | Building Disaster Resilience

July 28th, 2022 |
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Disaster recovery needs to be rethought. It needs to shift to the concept of disaster resilience. Daniel Kaniewski, former Deputy Administrator for Resilience at FEMA, describes resilience as taking action before a disaster occurs, to reduce impacts on individuals, communities, governments and society writ large. However, he says far too many people only realize the value of resilience after a disaster strikes and they have lost everything.

In Episode 4 of our This Moment Matters podcast series, hosted by Marsh McLennan Chief Public Affairs Officer Erick Gustafson, Kaniewski talks about why thinking and acting in terms of resilience is critical, especially as the effects of climate change bring more intense storms as well as greater wildfire threats. Currently, he’s Managing Director of Public Sector at Marsh McLennan where he continues to focus on disaster resilience.

Kaniewski is hardly an armchair expert. He began his career at 18 as a volunteer firefighter paramedic in northern Minnesota. “You had to learn fast not only to care for those in need, but to realize you have to be resilient yourself because you see some pretty tragic circumstances,” he said.

One of his insights is that disaster response, whether from FEMA or other agencies, is only meant to help get people out of harm’s way. “With more disasters comes a greater burden on responders to help disaster survivors in their time of need,” he said. Kaniewski suggested resilience as the solution: “We need to prioritize resilience actions to improve survivor outcomes.”

By embracing disaster resilience, we can ensure disasters have fewer impacts in the future.

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Posted in: Audio Podcast, This Moment Matters