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nity recovered quickly after Hurricane Katrina, in contrast to other victims, illustrates this point (Chamlee-Wright and Storr 2009). The Vietnamese community lived mainly in the New Orleans east area, which was severely flooded (from 5 to more than 12 feet), but it recovered faster than both the poorer and wealthier (Lakeview) areas equally devastated. They returned to rebuild within weeks of the storm, and by summer 2007, 90 percent of the 4,000 residents living within a mile of The Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church, the physical and spiritual center of the community, were back. And 70 of the 75 Vietnamese-owned businesses in the vicinity were up and running again. In contrast, only 10 percent of wealthier Lakeview residents had returned 16 months after the storm. Similarly, only 28 percent of the ethnically diverse low- and middle-income residents of Broadmoor (in the uptown area) had returned by 2008. The Vietnamese community’s social cohesiveness accounts for its resilience. Many had come in the mid-1970s after the fall of Saigon, and others arrived later with the help of friends and family. They helped each other evacuate their homes when Katrina struck, remaining in touch with each other when they were displaced. When city officials did not help the elderly repair their homes, other members of the community did. Loans from relatives, labor exchanges, child care services, and rentals of tools and equipment were all organized, spurring the recovery. The community organized petitions to have public services restored. Father Vien Nguyen was the senior pastor of the church that remained the hub of the community. When municipal officials rebuffed a request to restore electricity in the area, Father Vien Nguyen gave pictures of Mass attendance to Entergy, a local power company, and gathered people’s names and addresses to show that enough paying customers had returned. Power was restored by the first week of November 2005, enabling the return of non-Vietnamese residents as well. While the government decided on the many complex issues of relocation, strengthening levees, and redirecting river flows, people rebuilt their lives and livelihoods, underscoring the major role of local communities in recovery. Public safety nets

The term “safety net” encompasses a wide range of public transfer schemes. Some governments use an existing system to help victims of a disaster, while others begin from scratch. As chapter 2 discussed, disasters can lead to permanent effects on victims, especially on children, where malnutrition in early ages can impair cognition, reducing productivity and lifetime earnings. This suggests a critical role for safety nets: timely assistance—in food aid or cash transfers—can prevent adverse effects from becoming permanent. The need to make food available quickly may require that pre-existing stocks, plans, and systems that quickly disburse food aid are in place, such as food relief outlets in Ethiopia and the World Food Program warehouses in many countries.

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Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention  

Earthquakes, droughts, floods, and storms are natural hazards, but unnatural disasters are the deaths and damages that result from human act...

Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention  

Earthquakes, droughts, floods, and storms are natural hazards, but unnatural disasters are the deaths and damages that result from human act...

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