Can you understand what you have not experienced?

There is a documentary on HULU called billion dollar disasters. It covers several old natural disasters that I remember well. If you take the time to watch these you will notice something. The more a person has some experience with a potential natural disaster the more likely one is to prepare for the risks related to a natural disaster. Many times the people hardest hit are people who are either new to the area where a certain type of natural disaster can occur or people born after the last event so that they have no memory. In some societies oral traditions and stories serve to remind current generations of risks faced by past generations during natural disasters. You would think that in the computer age we would do a better job learning from the past. Unfortunately, that is not true. Before Hurricane Sandy we had Hurricane Irene which was a large and very destructive tropical cyclone. Many people based their understanding of the risk of Sandy on their experiences with Irene. The two events were very different in geography and meteorology. Because of this comparison people were not adequately prepared. It is hard to appreciate that which we have not experienced. This is where education must take place. When one lives in an area where a natural disaster can occur the possibility and impact of such an event must be taught so people can truly understand the risk and make preparations .


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