On Risk and Disaster

On Risk and Disaster : Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

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Named one of Planetizen's Top 10 Books of 2006

Hurricane Katrina not only devastated a large area of the nation's Gulf coast, it also raised fundamental questions about ways the nation can, and should, deal with the inevitable problems of economic risk and social responsibility. This volume gathers leading experts to examine lessons that Hurricane Katrina teaches us about better assessing, perceiving, and managing risks from future disasters.

In the years ahead we will inevitably face more problems like those caused by Katrina, from fire, earthquake, or even a flu pandemic. America remains in the cross hairs of terrorists, while policy makers continue to grapple with important environmental and health risks. Each of these scenarios might, in itself, be relatively unlikely to occur. But it is statistically certain that we will confront such catastrophes, or perhaps one we have never imagined, and the nation and its citizenry must be prepared to act. That is the fundamental lesson of Katrina.

The 20 contributors to this volume address questions of public and private roles in assessing, managing, and dealing with risk in American society and suggest strategies for moving ahead in rebuilding the Gulf coast.

Contributors: Matthew Adler, Vicki Bier, Baruch Fischhoff, Kenneth R. Foster, Robert Giegengack, Peter Gosselin, Scott E. Harrington, Carolyn Kousky, Robert Meyer, Harvey G. Ryland, Brian L. Strom, Kathleen Tierney, Michael J. Trebilcock, Detlof von Winterfeldt, Jonathan Walters, Richard J. Zeckhauser.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 453.59g
  • Pennsylvania, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0812219597
  • 9780812219593
  • 1,736,050

Table of contents


-Amy Gutmann


-Ronald J. Daniels, Donald F. Kettl, and Howard Kunreuther


On Their Own in Battered New Orleans

-Peter G. Gosselin

Using Risk and Decision Analysis to Protect New Orleans against Future Hurricanes

-Detlof von Winterfeldt

Planning for a City on the Brink

-Kenneth R. Foster and Robert Giegengack

JARring Actions that Fuel the Floods

-Carolyn Kousky and Richard Zeckhauser


Behaviorally Realistic Risk Management

-Baruch Fischhoff

Rationales and Instruments for Government Intervention in Natural Disasters

-Michael J. Trebilcock, and Ronald J. Daniels

Social Inequality, Hazards, and Disasters

-Kathleen Tierney

Equity Analysis and Natural Hazards Policy

-Matthew D. Adler


Why We Under-Prepare for Hazards

-Robert J. Meyer

Has the Time Come for Comprehensive Natural Disaster Insurance?

-Howard Kunreuther

Rethinking Disaster Policy After Hurricane Katrina

-Scott E. Harrington

Providing Economic Incentives to Build Disaster-Resistant Structures

-Harvey Ryland


Role of Public Health and Clinical Medicine in Preparing for Disasters

-Brian Strom

Hurricane Katrina as a Bureaucratic Nightmare

-Vicki Bier

The Katrina Breakdown

-Jonathan Walters and Donald F. Kettl


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Review quote

"This timely volume contains valuable lessons and insights into the critical areas of disaster prevention, mitigation, recovery, and risk financing. It is an eclectic blend of lessons born of practical experience and academic research that collectively provides valuable insights that policymakers and lawmakers, insurers and academic researchers can draw upon to help guide them through the difficult years that lie ahead."-Robert P. Hartwig, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, Insurance Information Institute "An indispensable resource for all who seek to learn from the unprecedented devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. I commend the authors for recording the valuable lessons learned. Their work will assuredly help our communities be better prepared for the next catastrophe."-James Lee Witt, former Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency "An enormously important volume that comes at just the right time. In the wake of Katrina, new thinking is urgently needed on how to manage catastrophic risk most effectively-especially regarding prevention and recovery. This precious volume offers insights on both fronts, with contributions from many of the nation's leading authorities on risk and disaster. It is a must-read for scholars and policymakers alike."-David A. Moss, Harvard Business School "This volume provides important insights from the nation's leading experts on how we, as a community and nation, should be rethinking disaster assessment, prevention, and mitigation. Policymakers, legislators, business leaders, and scholars: this is a must-read."-Jon Huntsman, Jr., Governor of Utah
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About Amy Gutmann

Ronald J. Daniels is Provost and Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published widely, including Rethinking the Welfare State: The Prospects for Government by Voucher (with Michael Trebilcock) and The Security of Freedom: Essays on Canada's Anti-Terrorism Bill (coedited with Patrick Macklem and Kent Roach). Donald F. Kettl, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, has written or edited System under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics, The Global Public Management Revolution, The Politics of the Administrative Process (with James W. Fesler), The Transformation of Governance: Public Administration for the 21st Century, among many other books. Howard Kunreuther is Professor and Codirector of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. His has written or coedited a number of books, including Catastrophe Modeling: A New Approach to Managing Risk (with Patricia Grossi) and Wharton on Making Decisions (with Stephen Hoch). Amy Gutmann is the eighth President of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Why Deliberative Democracy? (with Dennis Thompson), Identity in Democracy, Democratic Education, Democracy and Disagreement (with Dennis Thompson), and Color Conscious (with K. Anthony Appiah). Her reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Times Literary Supplement, Washington Post, and other general publications.
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