When the waters finally recede and the fires extinguished, when the roads are cleared of debris and the last orphaned child comforted, the TV crews move on to the next hard luck story. Every year, violent natural catastrophes – earthquakes, fires, floods and extreme storms – cause devastation around the planet. This year has brought one disaster after another.
Hurricane Michael, the worst the U.S. state of Florida has seen in a century, recently left behind “unimaginable destruction” in Mexico Beach. Earlier, Hurricane Florence had hit North Carolina, causing damages of up to $22 billion. Asia had its own share of disasters. In Indonesia, a tsunami struck the island of Sulawesi in late September, taking more than 2,000 lives , this year’s strongest storm, devastated Southeast Asia.
The news frenzy around these disasters usually dies down soon enough. But for the communities affected, days, weeks, months and sometimes even years are not enough to restore normalcy.
“Just because the Red Cross leaves, it doesn’t mean that life returns to normal,” says Athanasia Scheuermann-Christodoulou, a senior claims expert at Global P&C in Allianz and an expert in natural catastrophe (NatCat) insurance. “What you see on the news are short-term recovery actions like removing debris and restoring power. Rebuilding shattered communities can potentially take years.”