If You Care About Disaster Resilience, You Need to Study Cuba

America’s least favorite Caribbean nation is the model for how to weather a storm.

Anna Mercury


Photo by Dorothea OLDANI on Unsplash

As of June 1st, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is underway. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has predicted this season to be “above-normal,” bringing with it some 6–10 hurricanes and a likely 3–6 major (category 3+) hurricanes. Unsurprisingly, our current understanding of “above-normal” may not stay that way, as extraction-caused climate change brings warming ocean temperatures and rising sea levels that will likely increase the severity of topical storms.

According to a recent PBS survey, we may soon see the addition of a category 6 to the scale.

The NOAA’s predictions for this year look hauntingly similar to 2017, which is currently ranked the 4th most devastating Atlantic hurricane season since satellite imaging began. The worst, of course, was 2005 — the year of Katrina — and there is reason to believe this season could get that bad too.

We’re currently two months out from the peak of hurricane season. Tropical storms Alex, Bonnie and Colin have already arrived, and as we start pushing deeper into the alphabet, preparedness and response should be on everyone’s minds. As state and federal governments have repeatedly failed to respond well to intense hurricanes—Katrina may be our most damning example in recent memory—the importance of building resilience cannot be overstated.

Disasters are here to stay. They are almost certainly going to get worse. Centering real disaster resilience in policy and daily life can be the difference between life and death for thousands of people, and there is only so much ordinary people can do when our governments fail to prepare. There is still a good deal we can do: creating resilience hubs, conducting community risk mapping, educating ourselves on preparedness, organizing relief funds, making evacuation plans with our neighbors, and integrating into community-based organizations already offering relief, among many more tactics of mutual aid.

All the same, if our governments fail to take disaster resilience seriously, the consequences of increasingly severe hurricanes and wildfires will be…