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Around 32 towns and villages in the provinces of East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kordestan, Mazandaran, and Zanjan were severely affected in the recent flash floods.
Around 32 towns and villages in the provinces of East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kordestan, Mazandaran, and Zanjan were severely affected in the recent flash floods.

Contingency, Preparedness Lacking When Disaster Strikes

Sometimes people venture out in inclement weather simply out of curiosity to see nature’s fury, failing to understand that they are endangering their lives

Contingency, Preparedness Lacking When Disaster Strikes

Floods are the most frequent natural disasters in Iran often leaving a trail of disaster in their aftermath. Although the responsibility primarily rests on the government to reduce the impact of natural hazards, particularly flash floods which happen without prior warning, the public can also be made to play an important role in crisis situations through proper training, awareness and preparedness.
Unfortunately, the current awareness of the risks of flash floods is low among the people with inadequate information “to make good judgment in the face of such incidents,” said Shahin Fathi, deputy of operations at Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) on Monday.
“According to a study conducted in 2012, people’s participation in crisis management was only 8.5%. The figure has seen a marginal increase to 9.3% now but is still very low.”
The key to reducing loss of life, personal injury and damage from natural disasters is effective public awareness and education. “People should know in advance what specific preparations to make and what to do during an earthquake, flood or fire.”
Iran is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and at risk of a wide range of natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, land subsidence and drought. During the last decade, natural disasters have claimed the lives of 30,000 people across the country (700,000 across the world).
Natural and man-made disasters cost Iran over 7% of its GDP, which currently stands at $438 billion, official reports show. This indicates that the country is still not prepared and equipped to deal with natural calamities.
A rural woman, who survived the recent flash floods and landslides in the western regions following torrential rains, told ISNA on Monday that she and her two children were watching the swirling flood waters “when a sudden increase in the force and pressure of the water flow washed us away, but we managed to survive.”
Other stories of survival are similar, indicating that people’s awareness of how to avoid or stay out of a risky situation is low.
Sometimes people venture out in inclement weather simply out of curiosity to see nature’s fury, failing to understand that they are endangering their lives.
“It is unfortunate that funding to raise people’s awareness about natural hazards is low. We should learn lessons from the recent disaster or more people will be at risk in future,” said Mohsen Ziaee, head of IRCS at a meeting in East Azarbaijan, once of the severely affected provinces in last week’s floods.
In the floods in the northwestern and western provinces, 42 people lost their lives, 12 were injured and six people are missing.
Around 32 towns and villages in the provinces of East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Kordestan, Mazandaran, and Zanjan were severely affected. East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan had the highest casualties while the cities of Ajabshir and Azarshahr were the worst hit.

  Rapid Response Necessary
People must be made aware of what natural hazards they are likely to face in their own regions. They should know in advance the specific preparations to make before a disaster, and what to do during a storm, earthquake, flood, fire, or other likely event, and what actions to take in their aftermath.
Equally important, public officials and the media should be prepared to respond effectively, responsibly, and speedily to large-scale natural emergencies. Special efforts must also be made to reach and plan for the care of particularly vulnerable segments of the population: children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled with information about possible disasters and what to do in an emergency.
Loss from extreme natural disasters globally is equivalent to $520 billion annually, and forces some 26 million people into poverty each year, a report in November 2016 from the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) revealed.
Severe climate shocks threaten to roll back decades of progress against poverty. Storms, floods, and droughts have dire human and economic consequences, with the poor and vulnerable often paying the heaviest price. Building resilience to disasters not only makes economic sense, it is a moral imperative, the report said.

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