Disaster Law and Policy

Hurricane Sandy is likely to result in more losses than last year’s Hurricane Irene, leaving millions without power, causing widespread flooding and the shutdown of New York City’s subways for days, and the death of dozens of people up and down the U.S. east coast. Insurance estimates indicate that Sandy should outdo the roughly $4.5 billion in insured losses Irene caused after hitting the northeast in August 2011. Sandy is likely to cause anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion in insured losses and from $10 billion to $20 billion in economic losses. Estimates are that Sandy will rank as the fifth-worst hurricane in history surpassing the 2011 Hurricane Irene, based on inflation-adjusted losses. Losses will likely not surpass those incurred in the wake of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina but may exceed those caused by the 2005 Hurricane Wilma.

Because of Hurricane Sandy, Brooklyn Law School closed on Sunday and continues to face staffing shortages until restoration of public transit. The BLS Library has in its collection a number of items related to environmental disasters including Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World by Robert R. M. Verchick (Call # GE180 .V47 2010) where the author argues that, as Hurricane Katrina vividly revealed, disaster policy in the United States is broken and needs reform. The book suggests a new perspective on disaster law that is based on the principles of environmental protection with a prescription that comes down to three simple commands: Go Green, Be Fair, and Keep Safe. “Go Green” means minimizing exposure to hazards by preserving natural buffers and integrating those buffers into artificial systems like levees or seawalls. “Be Fair” means looking after public health, safety, and the environment without increasing personal and social vulnerabilities. “Keep Safe” means a cautionary approach when confronting disaster risks. 
See also Disaster Law and Policy (2d edition) by the same author co-written with Daniel A. Farber, Jim Chen, and Lisa Sun (Call # KF3750 .F37 2010) with chapters Why things go wrong : causes of disaster — Who’s in charge? : federal power to respond to disaster — Emergency response — Social vulnerability — Evaluating and responding to risk — Compensation and risk spreading — Recovering from disaster — International disaster law and policy.