ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making Cyclone Forecasts Useful to Emergency Managers

A relatively neglected area in hazard warnings research is the usefulness of hazard warnings in decision-making by emergency managers. Based on the interactions and interviews with various emergency managers at the state and district levels, the experience of emergency managers in using cyclone warnings for various kinds of decisions they need to make during emergency situations is analysed. The findings reveal that there are several areas—such as the content of the message, associated uncertainty, language, frequency, and timeliness—where improvements are required.

The author is thankful to all the district collectors and revenue officials in Machilipatnam, Prakasam, and Guntur districts in Andhra Pradesh, Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts in Tamil Nadu, and the joint commissioner (Revenue) in Chennai for providing valuable insights and sharing their precious time for interviews. The author is indebted to her supervisors Anand Patwardhan and D Parthasarathy for their unstinting support and guidance. She is grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback and comments.

Much of the emphasis of the empirical literature on “warning response” has been on “public” response to hazard early warning, that is, the response of the people at risk due to the hazard (see bibliography prepared by Mileti et al [2006] for numerous research articles published on this issue). The process of decision-making by the emergency managers and their response to warnings during a natural hazard have received relatively lesser attention and have undergone minimal objective assessment (Gladwin et al 2007). Studies on the management side of disasters have focused on organisational and coordination issues (for example, Dynes 2000; Lindell et al 2007). To the author’s knowledge, there is not even a single study that systematically examines the extent to which the warning messages are useful for emergency managers, and the limitations of the warning messages in aiding their decision-making.

This is an important issue to study as many decisions and actions that emergency managers1 take for the area under their jurisdiction are usually triggered on receiving hazard warnings. The quality of the decisions made and actions taken by the emergency managers, for example, disseminating the warning to people at risk, evacuating people from danger zones, etc, are likely to be affected by the quality of the warning they receive and the manner in which they interpret the warning.

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Updated On : 7th Dec, 2018
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