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Being better prepared for the spike in floods and storms

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SINGAPORE – Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled the Texas coast at the end of August, and Hurricane Irma, which caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean and Florida this month, are the latest manifestation of a jump in extreme floods and storms.

In southwest Japan in July, at least 18 people were killed and hundreds stranded after unusually heavy rains caused massive floods and landslides. The common refrain everywhere is that nobody had seen or expected anything like this. But as climate change aggravates hydro-meteorological events, these catastrophes are the new norm. The only lasting response is to cut greenhouse gases and contain global warming, but meanwhile, we must also build urgently far greater resilience to the devastation.

Strengthening disaster resilience makes a big difference to lives and livelihood. With the intensity of weather-related hazards on the rise, and more people locating in harm’s way, these events are affecting more people and causing greater financial damage to economies and households. But effective measures have been taken, increasingly in recent years, to provide early warning systems and more robust evacuations of populations living in the paths of typhoons: as a result, death tolls from similar events have declined.

A striking example is how the population of Tulang Diyot — a small island off the mainland Cebu, Philippines........

© The Japan Times