Edited by Harry W. Richardson, Jiyoung Park, James E. Moore II and Qisheng Pan
Chapter 11: The Joplin tornado of 2011
Despite the potential destruction that might result, tornadoes have not received much attention in natural disaster economic impact research, certainly compared with earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. There are several reasons for this. One is that there are more preventive and mitigating measures that can be adopted to deal with other types of natural disasters and one virtue of estimating the dollar value of economic impacts is that it offers some parameters of how much might be spent on prevention and mitigation using a cost-benefit approach. There is little that can be done to mitigate the effects of tornadoes other than construction improvements in terms of materials and incorporating basements in residential construction. It would be very difficult to do this within the framework of public policy; it could only be achieved by private sector (for example, individual or developer) actions. A second issue is that the geographical scope of most other natural disasters is much broader so that many more people are usually affected. Most disasters occur in urban areas whereas because of their limited spatial scale most tornadoes touch down in rural areas with sparse populations. Joplin is quite a small town but unusually large for a tornado-impacted area. Third, the location of a tornado is much less predictable.
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