<p>In recent years, the number of presidential declarations of "major disasters" has skyrocketed. Such declarations make stricken areas eligible for federal emergency relief funds that greatly reduce their costs. But is federalizing the costs of disasters helping to lighten the overall burden of disasters or is it making matters worse? Does it remove incentives for individuals and local communities to take measures to protect themselves? Are people more likely to invest in property in hazardous locations in the belief that, if worse comes to worst, the federal government will bail them out?.<p>Disasters and Democracy addresses the political response to natural disasters, focusing specifically on the changing role of the federal government from distant observer to immediate responder and principal financier of disaster costs.
"This book takes on more importance with each passing day…. Anyone with an interest in the area of disaster policy must have this book on his/her shelf."
"Platt offers a number of suggestions for changes to federal disaster assistance programs that would depoliticize assistance to individuals and reduce the magnitude of assistance to state and local governments…. Platt's analysis of the politics of disaster assistance is enlightening…"
"A most valuable feature of this book is the conclusions and recommendations, where Platt outlines the policy lessons derived from case studies. These lessons…are common sense, politically feasible, easy-to-implement changes to existing policies that, in many cases, are long overdue."
Electronic Green Journal
"Disasters and Democracy is more than a fascinating read; it will open the public's eyes to the real problems and costs associated with disaster relief."
Addresses the political response to natural disasters, focusing on the changing role of the federal government from distant observer to immediate responder and principle financier of disaster costs. Explores the evolution and implications of federal disaster policies, and offers regional case studies that examine the federal role and relief expenditures in three disaster recovery efforts: Fire Island, New York, after 1992-93 storms; St. Charles County, Missouri, after a 1993 flood; and Oakland, California, after a 1989 earthquake and a 1991 fire. Includes b&w photos of the aftermath of natural disasters. Platt is a professor of geography and planning law at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Introduction - Disasters before 1950: Coping without Congress
PART I. Federalizing Disasters: From Compassion to Entitlement
Chapter 1. Shouldering the Burden: Federal Assumption of Disaster Costs
Chapter 2. U.S. Federal Disaster Declarations: A Geographical Analysis
Chapter 3. Stemming the Losses: The Quest for Hazard Mitigation
PART II. Property Rights and the Takings Issue
Chapter 4. Property Rights Organizations: Backlash against Regulation
Chapter 5. The Takings Issue and the Regulation of Hazardous Areas
PART III. Case Studies
Chapter 6. Fire Island: The Politics of Coastal Erosion
Chapter 7. St. Charles County, Missouri: Federal Dollars and the 1993 Midwest Flood
Chapter 8. The Bay Area: One Disaster after Another
Conclusion and Recommendations
Selected Bibliography for Further Reading
About the Contributors