New Report Finds Much Has Been Learned to Protect Communities 10 Years after Katrina

But Zurich and Wharton say more steps needed to create resilient communities

SCHAUMBURG, Ill.--()--Zurich North America and the Wharton Risk Center today released Beyond Katrina: Lessons In Creating Resilient Communities, a white paper outlining flood resilience strategies implemented since one of the nation’s most destructive storms ravaged New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region. At the same time, Beyond Katrina acknowledges that many vulnerabilities still exist that put our cities at risk in the face of extreme weather. Combining Zurich’s risk management intelligence with Wharton’s analysis of the economic, financial and insurance impact of natural disasters, Beyond Katrina offers objectives and some solutions that address the vulnerabilities and engender more resilient communities around the world.

“For those arriving on the ground after Katrina hit, the devastation was beyond anything they had ever seen,” said Mike Foley, CEO of Zurich North America Commercial. “It is our hope that Beyond Katrina will act as a catalyst for the discussion and collaboration necessary at a corporate, policy and community level to improve the current state of resiliency in the United States and abroad.”

Building resiliency is a complex challenge, requiring actions from governmental bodies, business owners, non-governmental organizations and individuals. The paper identifies a number of critical areas to keep stakeholders aligned, including prioritizing flooding as the paramount risk, devoting more resources to preventive measures rather than post-event disaster relief, and overcoming current infrastructure vulnerabilities.

The paper offers first steps and tactics to help assess and address communities at risk, and ways to improve the affordability of risk-based disaster insurance. Zurich’s Global Flood Resilience Program, developed with humanitarian organizations and Wharton Business School’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has directly helped 125,000 people in flood-prone communities in Mexico, Indonesia, Peru, Nepal and Bangladesh. In situations where traditional risk financing solutions are not the best solution, the program brings together flood risk research, community-based programs and risk expertise to offer practical solutions in managing flood risk.

“As the past decade has shown, we have entered a new era of catastrophes,” said Dr. Erwann Michel-Kerjan, executive director of Wharton’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. “Either we pretend they will not happen to us, or we join forces to make resilience a national priority. This requires new knowledge to help design measurable solutions.”

Since 2005, Zurich has been heavily involved in the New Orleans community, sponsoring the annual Zurich Classic golf tournament. Proceeds from the Zurich Classic served as seed money to start the local Bayou District Foundation, which aims to incorporate resilience through structures that can withstand hurricane-force winds, housing built above the flood zone, and programs to educate New Orleans residents on staying safe in severe storms.

“Reducing the exposure to damage before disasters occur is one of the most important lessons to take from Hurricane Katrina,” said Howard Kunreuther, professor and co-director of Wharton’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. “Thinking through these issues after the fact only ensures that we struggle more, pay more, and sow the seeds for even more costly efforts in the future.”

The release of Beyond Katrina coincides with the 10th anniversary of the storm. The subject of the paper is the focus of a panel discussion at 10 a.m. Aug. 27 at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans. The five-member panel, moderated by acclaimed writer Michael Lewis, will discuss lessons from Katrina and how the storm dramatically changed the paradigm of how businesses, governments and communities manage pre-disaster planning and post-disaster recovery. The panelists are Zurich CEO Mike Foley; Wharton’s Dr. Erwann Michel-Kerjan; Mitch Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans; Gerard W. Barousse Jr., chairman of the Bayou District Foundation; and Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation.

To view the Beyond Katrina white paper, please visit zurichna.com/Katrina10.

About Zurich

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With more than 55,000 employees, it provides a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, including multinational corporations, in more than 170 countries. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at www.zurich.com.

In North America, Zurich is a leading commercial property-casualty insurance provider serving the global corporate, large corporate, middle market, specialties and programs sectors through the individual member companies of Zurich in North America, including Zurich American Insurance Company. Life insurance and disability coverage issued in the United States in all states except New York is issued by Zurich American Life Insurance Company, an Illinois domestic life insurance company. In New York, life insurance and disability coverage is issued by Zurich American Life Insurance Company of New York, a New York domestic life insurance company. For more information about the products and services it offers and the people Zurich employs around the world, go to www.zurichna.com.

About the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. With a broad global community and one of the most published business school faculties, Wharton creates economic and social value around the world. The School has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 participants in executive education programs annually and a powerful alumni network of 94,000 alumni in 153 countries.

About the Wharton Risk Center

Established in 1984, the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center develops and promotes effective corporate and public policies for dealing with catastrophic events. The Risk Center research team – over 50 faculty, fellows and doctoral students – investigate how individuals and organizations make choices under conditions of risk and uncertainty under various regulatory and market conditions, and the effectiveness of strategies such as alternative risk financing, incentive systems, insurance, regulation, and public-private collaborations at a national and international scale. The Center actively engages multiple viewpoints, including top representatives from industry, government, international organizations, interest groups and academia. More information is available at http://opim.wharton.upenn.edu/risk.

Contacts

Zurich North America
Blaine Krage, 847-413-5605
blaine.krage@zurichna.com
or
Wharton Risk Center
Carol Heller, 215-898-5688
hellerc@wharton.upenn.edu

Contacts

Zurich North America
Blaine Krage, 847-413-5605
blaine.krage@zurichna.com
or
Wharton Risk Center
Carol Heller, 215-898-5688
hellerc@wharton.upenn.edu