New Orleans acts on disaster risk awareness for private sector
UNITED NATIONS OFFICE FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION (UNISDR)
New Orleans, the epicentre of Hurricane Katrina, is engaging with its private sector to improve disaster risk awareness as part of its overall strategy for improving resilience to disasters and facilitating rapid recovery after an event. A survey published today of 208 New Orleans-based small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), the majority located below sea level, has found vulnerability remains high and less than half of survey respondents have an emergency plan in place.
Two-thirds are heavily dependent on another business for their survival.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, today welcomed the report and said: “I would like to thank the City of New Orleans Office of Resilience and Sustainability for cooperating on this survey of disaster resilience in such an iconic location. The city’s fame will ensure that many other business communities in hazard-exposed locations will take note. Disaster risk is a serious issue for business.” The report “Disaster Resilience of Small to Mid-Size Businesses on New Orleans Historic Corridors” was issued today at the “Resilient New Orleans One Year Progress Event.” The event marks the launch in August, 2015, of the city’s resilience strategy “Resilient New Orleans: Strategic actions to shape our future city.” The strategy recognises the role small and mid-size businesses play in the well-being and future of the city. New Orleans has invested billions of dollars in improving the city’s infrastructure including levee system upgrades, road and bridge restorations, water and waste water infrastructure. Today’s report highlights the need for greater involvement of the business community in disaster risk management and disaster preparedness in the city. The project was directed by Mr. Dale Sands, AECOM Senior Vice President, Environment, who participates in UNISDR’s Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE). Mr. Sands said: “Overall disaster preparedness of those surveyed is low but there is a clear desire on the part of the city and the business community to raise awareness of disaster risk reduction and to lay a foundation for a rapid recovery after a disaster event.” The survey, funded by the Walmart Foundation, was initiated to better understand how small businesses in New Orleans are prepared for disasters. Project partners in collaboration with the City of New Orleans Office of Resilience and Sustainability and the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority developed a Disaster Resilience Survey for Small Businesses. Survey partners included PriceWaterhouseCoopers, IBM and Florida International University. New Orleans today has a population of 389,617, or about 84% of what it was prior to Hurricane Katrina but growth is apparent from recent population surveys and the number of new businesses.
By Denis McLean
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