National Tornado Summit 2014

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Photo: Bob Hartwig, president/CEO of the Insurance Information Institute, presents a check on behalf of the insurance industry to help rebuild Moore Public Schools. Deidre Ebrey and her daughters, Meredith (left) and Allison, accepted the donation. Ebrey is the director of economic development for the City of Moore and also serves on the board of the school foundation. Her daughters are students in Moore public schools.

Mother Nature can knock you down, but you can’t let her keep you there. That was my takeaway from a panel of mayors who spoke of recovery and rebuilding at the National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma City.

Mayors from Moore, Hattiesburg, Joplin and Tuscaloosa talked about rising above the devastation, physically and mentally. After the powerful storm that hit Moore, Oklahoma  last year, its mayor says about 85 percent of the people impacted are planning to rebuild. Insured losses in Oklahoma topped $2 billion in 2013, and that insurance money is putting communities back together.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a village to raise itself. The mayors stressed the importance of establishing partnerships in advance to prepare for natural disasters and the need to make people more aware of the risks they face. Every city owns its own disaster, said one of the mayors, and no two events are exactly alike. I hear this all the time and wish more people took it to heart. When people have experienced one calamity, they use it as the basis to prepare for the next one. Big mistake. Disasters are unique, and they seem to defy comparison.  Is it impossible to be ready for everything? Maybe, but it’s not impossible to try.

Click to view more images from National Tornado Summit 2014

The I.I.I.’s President/CEO Bob Hartwig gave a presentation on trends and challenges of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms at the Summit. He talked about the numbers, as an economist tends to do, and said he knows the dollars and statistics can only tell a portion of the impact of natural disasters. It’s the people impacted and how they rebound that matter most. And, to demonstrate the insurance industry’s commitment to helping the recovery, he presented a check for $10,000 to the Moore Public School Tornado Relief Fund.

After any disaster, communities make reopening schools a priority. It sends a signal that things are getting back to normal. It may take days or weeks to do this, and it takes several months (or years) more for the “new normal” to take hold. The hope is our contribution makes that happen as fast as possible.

Lynne McChristian is the I.I.I.’s Catastrophe Communications Representative.

 

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