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Menoni, S., & Boni, M. P. (2020). A systemic approach for dealing with chained damages triggered by natural hazards in complex human settlements

Bibliographic details:

Menoni, S., & Boni, M. P. (2020). A systemic approach for dealing with chained damages triggered by natural hazards in complex human settlements. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction51





Events entailing multiple phenomena co-occurring at the same time or triggering one another have long been considered the exception rather than the rule. More recently, increased attention has been paid to hazards that are clustered in time and space. This can be explained by the fact that such events have become more frequent. However, it may well be the result of a different approach taken by researchers and practitioners that are looking at disasters through new lenses. Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions intrinsically entail a variety of associated phenomena; there is no doubt that climate change is modifying the pattern of hazards that depend on meteorological factors, such as storms or floods and is creating unprecedented threats in some regions (eg. Typhoons in the Mediterranean regions and hurricanes far away from the Atlantic belt). On the other hand, the increased complexity of cities and human settlements have made na-techs more frequent than was the case in the early Nineties [1], when the term was introduced for the first time on the basis of an in depth investigation of technological accidents that had occurred in the USA in the previous decade. Enchained, domino and cascading damages are attributes that have been often associated to multiple hazards, natural or man-made, triggered by one another or co-occurring within a short time span. However, they are still in search of a consensual definition to frame theoretical and practical approaches that are required for effective mitigation measures. In the present article such an approach is proposed grounded on two main pillars. On the one hand we aim to understand cascading events as resulting from the chain of different damages and failures that may occur either in association or triggered by one another. On the other hand we consider the complexity of different types of human settlements, showing the variation in types of settlements that can be equally prone to severe enchained affects. Based on literature and past projects, an interpretation of domino and cascading effects as a chain of subsequent damages and losses due to risk factors differentially associated with individual scenarios, is proposed in section 2. Then a typology of settlements and urban environments is discussed in section 3. Section 4 presents a methodology that has been developed in order to reconstruct the chained scenario of damage and losses in different types of urban environments making extensive use of empirical evidence extracted from post disaster reporting. The methodology is then applied to three case studies that are representative of distinct types of settlements in section 5. Section 6 summarizes the main results of the analysis and sets the stage for future research.