Washington - Federal, state and local governments, the private sector, and American citizens themselves must be substantially better prepared to face the devastating impact of future mega-catastrophes, according to The Financial Services Roundtable, headquartered in Washington. 

Governments at all levels, together with the private sector, must do a better job of attending to the human and economic needs of victims immediately after mega-catastrophes. These are two of the findings released in the new report "A Call to Action" by the Financial Services Roundtable Blue Ribbon Commission on Mega-Catastrophes. The report identifies other disaster preparedness needs and offers 25 recommendations to better prepare the nation for future catastrophes.

The Blue Ribbon Commission was formed to develop a comprehensive report and to make recommendations to reduce the impact of mega-catastrophes (mega-CATs) on human life and the economy, pay for the costs of rebuilding and reconstruction after mega-CATs in an efficient and equitable manner, and improve immediate responses to and recovery from mega-catastrophes.

"We urge policymakers at all levels of government to take prompt action to implement the recommendations," says Edward Rust, Jr., chairman and CEO of Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm Insurance Companies and chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission. "We must learn lessons from previous disasters. We must apply those lessons to minimize the consequences of future mega-catastrophes."

The report includes 25 recommendations for how the United States can best prepare for and recover from mega-catastrophes. The recommendations are divided into the following three areas:

  • Reducing the human and economic impacts of future mega-CATs.
  • Paying for the costs of future mega-CATs more efficiently and fairly.
  • Improving response to victims and expediting recovery from future mega-CATs.

"Above all else, we certainly know one thing from past such events: preparation makes all the difference," says Kerry Killinger, chairman and CEO of Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and vice chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission. "Although events never unfold exactly as we have planned, having no plan is simply a plan for failure."
A mega-CAT is a natural or man-made event that has significant adverse national impacts on economic activity, property or human life. The report covers a wide range of mega-CATs, including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, pandemics and terrorist attacks. The report describes the potential impact of mega-CATs on the United States, including these:

  • Hurricane. A Category 5 storm in Miami would destroy 1.6 million homes.
  • Pandemic. The death toll from a pandemic virus outbreak could be 2 million in the U.S. (300 million worldwide).
  • Terrorist attack. A New York terrorist attack could result in losses of over $700 billion.
  • Earthquake. A magnitude 7.3 earthquake in Los Angeles would destroy 700,000 homes and cause $700 billion in damage.

Source: The Financial Services Roundtable

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