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The Lifecycle of a Crisis

With Houston’s sprawl submerged under its third “500-year flood” since 2015, Texas governor Greg Abbott predicted years of recovery and “a new and different normal for the entire region.”

“Crisis has a lifecycle,” noted a white paper from Deloitte, “and so does crisis management.” The most heroic actions often happen on a sunny day in a conference room, long before any crisis, as responsibilities and redundancies are established in scenario planning sessions. And the hard work of dealing with impacts from natural disasters persists long after the public’s attention has moved elsewhere.

But the best-laid plans don’t always lead to the intended result. Michael Grunwald, writing in Politco, points out that the National Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968 to discourage building in flood-prone areas. Powerful lobbying morphed it into an expensive subsidy that underwrites actuarily-unviable development despite decades of warnings from researchers.

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