The Disaster Cycle has four phases including Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery and developing and executing a plan that addresses each stage of the Disaster Cycle is how each country, including The Bahamas can take on less damage and begin “building back better.” faster and more efficiently. Below are the stages of the Disaster Cycle and a brief explanation of what each stage entails.
Mitigation: Mitigation can be defined as the action of reducing the severity, seriousness, or painfulness of something. Disaster Mitigation involves creating or implementing measures that eliminate or reduce the impact and risk of hazards by taking proactive measures before an emergency or disaster occurs. Disaster mitigation work involves directly preventing future emergencies and/or minimizing their negative effects. On an individual level, mitigation measures include flood-proofing homes, buying insurance and building the foundation of your home well above sea level. On a Governmental level, mitigation measures can include protecting mangroves, Implementing and enforcing building codes, and reducing single use plastic items in stores and restaurants.
Preparedness: To be prepared is to be in a constant state of readiness. Disaster preparedness efforts include developing plans and preparations made before an emergency that help individuals and communities get ready. On an individual level, these preparations can include packing a disaster kit, setting up sandbags before a flood and battening down homes before a hurricane. On a governmental level, Disaster Preparedness includes developing and consistently reviewing and updating a National Disaster Plan for Hazards and Emergencies, ensuring that warehouses and shelters are identified and and are ready to host potential shelterees and ensuring that all persons across government, private sector and communities are trained in response, preparedness and other specialized areas.
Response: Disaster response work includes any actions taken during or immediately after an emergency, including efforts to save lives and to prevent further property damage. Ideally, disaster response involves putting already established disaster preparedness plans into motion. Typically, this phase of the disaster life cycle draws the most attention. It is also known as “disaster relief.” On an individual level, Disaster response includes activating your family and community Emergency Response Plans. On a governmental level, Disaster response includes activating the National Emergency Operations Center, evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters and providing mass care, emergency rescue and medical care, fire fighting, and urban search and rescue.
Recovery: The Recovery Phase of the disaster cycle begins after damages have been assessed and involves actions to return the affected community to its pre-disaster state or better. On a governmental level, recovery can include Damage Assessments, physical upgrades to building codes and road ways, and initiating education, training and public awareness campaigns. Recovery on an individual level can include repairing structural damage to your home or business. This is where Building Back Better applies the most because during this stage, it is ideal to rebuild the affected community in a way that makes it less vulnerable to future risks.
Disaster recovery can also be split into two phases. During Phase 1, recovery efforts can include providing shelter to persons that are unable to return home immediately after the “all clear” has been issued due to the impact of the disaster, debris removal and re-establishing critical utilities like water and electrical services while Phase 2 primarily focuses on long term rebuilding efforts.