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Volume 32, Issue 2

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Thursday, 01 October 2009 10:17

Crisis! The Urgent Need for Learning


Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 people in August 2005, cost over $80 billion in damage, and flooded 80 percent of the city. Yet analysis — the Hurricane Pam simulation — had revealed the dangers in July 2004. Before three months had ended in 2008, 23,500 people had become infected with dengue fever in Rio de Janeiro. Thirty had died. Chaos set in, exacerbated by conflicting messages from public officials. The surge in dengue fever overwhelmed hospitals, causing disruption in medical care and administrative disarray. During the week of April 1, the military had to intervene in the worst-hit areas of Rio by setting up tents with emergency hospital care. As of April 3, 2008, the epidemic had infected 55,000 people. Deaths totaled 67. Nearly half were children younger than 13. The dengue outbreak was blamed on several factors. Critically important, though, is that it was not a surprise. Everybody knew it could come. Yet despite