Coastal Resilience Center - Dr. Al Wallace

One of our major, but not really unexpected, findings from our ongoing research on the resilience of communities to hurricanes was that commercial enterprises are subject to the same types of disruptions as healthcare, public safety, and other social infrastructures. They all require power, water and sewer, communications, and transportation to function. We did find that convenience stores that stock everyday items such as groceries and over-the-counter drugs as well as, in many cases, providing fuel and cash via ATM machines, are an important factor in determining a community’s resiliency. We also learned that the supply chain for prescription medications is unlike those for food, fuel, and banking services because its products can’t be provided through self-organizing community networks. In an emergency, people can informally swap or trade in food and fuel if it’s available and even lend and borrow money but it’s both illegal and potentially life-threatening to for people to share prescription meds. Both the role of convenience stores and the need for prescription drugs must be considered in any plans for response and recovery from an extreme event, natural or human-caused.