Rebuilding with Hope

Molly Dolan, 8th grade writer

A tragedy, a wreck. Whirling winds. Gushing water. Bursting fires. Shaking grounds. Even on tranquil, breezy days, nature can turn upside down. These natural disasters are all different, and seem impossible to solve. Before they strike, there needs to be logical strategies in order to be prepared. There is no way to stop the disasters from coming. However, working together as a team, we can find solutions to these problems. 


Natural Disasters can demolish welcoming communities. From aggressive storms, to forceful floods and tsunamis it is hard to rebuild. In 2010, an earthquake located in Haiti killed 140,000 people. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) claimed that in the past 3 years, our country lost $329.9 billion and 3,318 innocent lives from natural disasters. Communities are significantly impacted. Families lost their loved ones, and even their homes. It involves hard work to get back to their old lives, their safe lives. This is why rebuilding communities is a hard step to take. Zoe Rohrich, a journalist from states, “Fourteen years after Hurricane Katrina, the neighborhood of Gentilly, New Orleans, is still in the process of rebuilding.” The journey to rebuilding may be long, but it is worth it. But how are the people impacted? What are the challenges? What are the solutions? It is a challenge, but communities can overcome it. 


Innocent lives lose many prized possessions during a natural disaster. In some cases, people do not want to go back to their destroyed communities. They have lost so many different things. From homes, to even loved ones. The couch where they would binge watch their favorite show is now gone. The kitchen island filled with calming scented candles, gone. Around the world, more than thirty million people were forced out of their homes because of natural disasters. Jennifer Hazelton (WFS 89’), a resident of Houston, Texas, provided information about Hurricane Harvey. She experienced Hurricane Harvey in August, 2017. “I had friends who literally lost everything” she exclaims. Depending on the natural disaster, it could take days, months, and up to years for their homes to be rebuilt. Even if a disaster does not impact an individual, it can impact their friends and family. 


While there are many challenges that come with a recovery from a natural disaster, the economic ones are the most intense. The speed of the economic recovery depends on the area where the natural disaster occurs. Over the past 40 years, 3.3 million disaster deaths have taken place in poor countries. Many countries already have problems before a natural disaster hits. For example, in 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, which caused many families to lose their homes from wind and flooding. This was due to the storms and their impact on poorly built structures. 


The sad thing is, these problems often start to flood in after a natural disaster hits. “What happens in a natural disaster is that a lot of vulnerabilities are magnified during a storm” Johanna Lawton exclaims, from Rebuild By Design. The problems also appear in wealthy countries. It is not just the poor countries. Each economic recovery after a natural disaster is different, depending on location. 


While the economic challenges crash in during the recovery, another problem, climate change, continues. It has caused these weather events to be more extreme by the day. “It affects everyone tremendously” Johanna Lawton points out. Climate change also makes the rebuilding process more challenging after a natural disaster. 


Now, climate change is forcing communities to take a step back, and think about how to rebuild in a better way. In San Rafael, California, the sea levels are starting to rise, which stirs up a threat to their community. The company Rebuild By Design offers solutions that benefit the community, rather than waiting for the natural disaster to occur. They have services that include building bike lane levees that double as flood protection, and they also offer highway improvements. “Our efforts are not to try to avoid putting bandaids on things, or building back what was there before” Johanna Lawton adds. If communities do not plan to build back in a 4more proactive way from a natural disaster, the problems will continue. 


One solution to rebuilding a community is rapid rebuilding. It helps communities restore their daily routines. People want to return back to their community safely after a natural disaster, but they want their old homes. Rebuilding, repairing, and refurbishing homes quickly after a monster storm can bring communities hope. It also helps them believe they can overcome the difficult challenges. It is important to listen to the people of the community, and hear their positive input.


However, building back a community does involve background knowledge of the natural disaster that has just hit. The perspective of building back is not about creating new, modern, and astounding homes. It is more about building back proactively. It is important to understand how the storm struck a community, and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening again. If there is a tornado, will there need to be more storm shelters? If there is a flood, will the houses need to be higher off the ground? The big question is, how do communities prepare and plan better for future storms?


This hard work to rebuild is never done by one individual. It is a group effort. Hurricane Harvey impacted the Houston community significantly. With all of the homes lost, there needed to be a big group effort. For example, during Hurricane Harvey, people used boats to help each other out after the flooding. “It was unbelievable to kinda see the city and everybody together” Jennifer Hazelton adds. Even if someone was not personally impacted, people still wanted to help out. 


Following a harsh storm, communities all around the world have to go through the rebuilding process. It is hard work to rebuild, and even harder to face the challenges. From money, to climate change, the problems with rebuilding vary. After the whirling winds, gushing water, bursting fires, shaking grounds, it is important for communities to work together to rebuild. Whether it is building back rapidly, better, or with more resilience, there isn’t always a clear answer. But the most important thing is to work together as a community. As Johanna Lawton states, “Alright now let’s all work together to figure out how we can overcome this.”