"The legal system ostensibly plays a central role in disaster prevention, response, and management. Attorneys, members of the judiciary, and decision-makers at every level of government must anticipate and respond to disasters in a coordinated manner. It is increasingly clear, however, that the law is woefully unprepared to handle disasters. A growing community of academics recognizes this problem, and is formulating solutions under the rubric of disaster law. This emerging legal academic field encompasses a wide-ranging, intra- and inter-disciplinary body of thought, research and dialogue which seeks to inform and improve disaster-related decision-making.
"On June 25th, 2007, eighteen law professors and legal practitioners who count disasters among their primary research interests, gathered at U.C. Berkeley Law School to chart disaster law's course for the immediate and long-term future. Appendix A, Workshop Participants and Agenda. Over the course of the day, participants highlighted a wide variety of important intellectual concerns and potential problem-solving strategies regarding disaster management.
"In a series of productive discussions, participants first addressed central normative issues of disaster law, including terminology and the role of the legal academy. The group then addressed four sub-areas of disaster law: international collaboration, social justice, compensation and insurance, and prevention and response. Participants' recommendations for action included the creation of an annual disaster law conference, the integration of disaster law into law teaching, and an increased internet presence.
"This white paper, a record of the milestone June 25th workshop, is intended as a
tool for use by disaster law practitioners and academics in mapping the direction and
future of the field."—Executive Summary.
"This symposium provides a forum for scholars to begin conceptualizing a new field of legal scholarship devoted to catastrophic risks. It is hard to think of anything equally important that has received so little sustained attention from lawyers and law professors. Hurricane Katrina involved over a thousand deaths and $100 billion in losses. There is no reason to consider Katrina the 'worst case scenario.' Yet, scholars have not yet systematically addressed the legal and policy issues posed by major disasters. Ultimately, the goal should be assembling the best portfolio of social policies, institutions, and legal rules to deal with catastrophic risks—a portfolio that includes prevention measures, mitigation incentives, emergency response strategies, liability rules, insurance, and reconstruction planning. In this symposium, papers by legal scholars and policy analysts will address these as well as other issues relating to this critically important subject."—Dan Farber, Editor, Introduction. Access to this bepress journal requires a subscription.
"The Natural Hazards Review stands on the realization that natural disaster losses result from interactions between the physical world, the constructed environment, and the character of the societies and people who occupy them. The journal is dedicated to bringing together the physical, social, and behavioral sciences; engineering; and the regulatory and policy environments to provide a forum for cutting edge, holistic, and cross-disciplinary approaches to natural hazards loss and cost reduction.... Social and behavioral sciences topics addressed include a range of issues related to hazard mitigation and human response as well as significant issues related to the built environment such as land use, building standards, and the role of financial markets and insurance."—Aim and Scope.
+Peek, Lori (Editor), Children, Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design, Special Issue: Children and Disasters Children, Youth and Environments Journal, v. 18, no.1 (2008)
This special issue includes a collection of 20 papers from around the world, 4 book reviews, a media review and and an annotated compilation of resources focusing on children and youth before, during and after disasters occur.
This article "concerns the promulgation of disaster myths by the media during and following Hurricane Katrina. Because analyses on data collected in Katrina’s aftermath are still ongoing, the article contains only preliminary observations, presented primarily in the form of examples from major press outlets that illustrate key points." — Introduction
+United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Law Materials
"Law is a traditional public health tool for disease prevention and health promotion. For many traditional public health problems, both acute and chronic, the role of law has been crucial in attaining public health goals, even rivaling the roles of epidemiology and laboratory science. Many of the greatest successes claimed by public health, such as high childhood immunization rates, improved motor vehicle safety, safer workplaces, and reduced tooth decay, have relied heavily on law. In the past few years, law has played an important role in the control of emerging health problems such as SARS and the threat of pandemic influenza.
"In 2000, CDC formally recognized the important role of law in public health by establishing the CDC Public Health Law Program. We are located in the Office of the Chief of Public Health Practice in the CDC Office of the Director. Our mission is to improve the health of the public through law. Our strategic goals are to: develop the legal preparedness of the public health system to address terrorism and other national public health priorities; improve the understanding and use of law as a public health tool; and
establish robust partnerships to join public health practitioners with partners in key law-related sectors, such as elected officials and the legal and law enforcement communities.
"The program works to: strengthen the competencies of public health professionals, attorneys, and other practitioners to apply law to public health and increase the number of attorneys active in public health; support and conduct applied research in public health law and translate findings into practice;
provide consultation and analysis in public health law to CDC programs and extramural constituents; establish partnerships among CDC and other organizations active in public health law and assist in strengthening their public health law capacity and expertise; and develop and disseminate authoritative information on public health law to the public health practice, policy, research, and education communities."—Website.
"Hurricane Katrina not only devastated a large area of the Gulf Coast, it also raised fundamental questions about how the nation can-and should-deal with the fundamental problems of risk and responsibility.
"Nearly 300 leaders from government, business, and nonprofit organizations and journalists from throughout the nation attended the National Symposium in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 1, 2005, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, Congressional Quarterly, and The Communications Institute.
"Symposium Goals - The Symposium objectively examined the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on nearly every sector of society and involving leading experts from many of the nation's leading academic and research institutions as well as leaders from government and business and senior journalists.
"The National Symposium reviewed critical questions that must be addressed in coping with future risks and disasters: How can we best assess and prepare for the events we are most likely to face?;How can we develop the best strategies for reducing their costs and improving our response?;Who should do what-what partnerships can we build among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and what glue can we provide to make those partnerships stick?; How should we, as a society, weigh the question of who bears the costs?; How do we deal with the important issues of equity and fairness, and how can we create mechanisms to resolve these issues as efficiently as possible?"— Conference Website.