CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- From Hurricane Hugo here in Charlotte almost twenty-four years ago to the deadly tornadoes in north Texas Wednesday night, communities across America are vulnerable to extreme weather each and every day.
Dr. Rick Knabb, PhD., addressed nearly 200 tornado experts, leading scientists, meteorologists, construction experts and safety advocates in Charlotte for the Build it Better Leadership Forum. He called the Forum an important 'meeting of the minds' among experts on how to best increase community resilience in the wake of natural disasters.
Dr. Knabb delivered a powerful message on Hurricane History in the United States. Looking back over the decades, life-threatening storms can and do run over the same areas time and time again. Tropical systems are not just coastal issues. They are not just wind machines and we do not get a break in one area just because it was hit the year or month before.
He urged that, "Every year Americans make preparedness a priority and that resilience should be a permanent and frequently discussed topic."
Dr. Knabb announced that overdue Storm Surge Watches and Warnings will be coming in 2015. The National Hurricane Center is currently working on ground-breaking storm surge graphics and point forecasts for above ground water heights during storm surge that will hopefully debut during the 2013 hurricane season.
Panel discussions addressed the unforeseen consequences of Hurricane Sandy and complexities of the emergency management and rescue efforts along with the compounding effects of persistent wind and water on community infrastructure.
The Build it Better Forum addressed commercial and residential building exposure in the face of severe weather with a look at steps communities have taken to improve building codes, construction design, modern building science coupled with natural protections.
The Forum also tried to tackle the unique challenges of low income communities facing natural disasters and how vulnerable communities and low-income families can better prepare to respond to and recover from extreme weather.
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin kicked things off by applauding North Carolina for its lower-than-average insurance premiums. He also underscored the value of mitigation in keeping rates lower and reducing property losses in disaster.
Additional speakers included:
Bill Read, Former Director of the National Hurricane Center
Margaret Davidson, Director of NOAA Coastal Services Center
Chris Estes, President and CEO, National Housing Conference
Dr. Earnst Kiesling, PhD., Professor of Civil Engineering at Texas Tech University and the co-inventor of the modern tornado safe room
Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President & CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)
Julie Rochman, President & CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)