Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsit was ten o'clock in the morning when Walter Jackson first heard the news. He was at work, and a category three hurricane was going to make a direct hit on town. Should he get his wife or kids first? And what about his parents? They're living on their own. Would they be okay? Then there's the house. How bad is it going to be this time?

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 secondsWalter and his family live near New Orleans in the US coastal state of Louisiana. It's always being their home. After a few quiet hurricane seasons they seemed to be getting ahead, but then a hurricane sets them back and puts their lives at risk. This is a story repeated countless times in many vulnerable parts of the United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. Those living in areas susceptible to storm surges and flooding have suffered before, but as Walter says, moving home and leaving everything behind is unthinkable. Now, traditionally, emergencies and disasters have been dealt with as one-off individual events, and this has been the case even if the same or similar events have repeatedly occurred.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 secondsThese events have been primarily dealt with through what is termed "emergency response", or "disaster relief". Behind this approach has been a view that many emergencies and disasters are unique, unprecedented, and unforeseen events. Even if very similar emergencies and disasters have occurred repeatedly in the past, and with emergencies and disasters themselves seen as one-off disruptive events, the causes are often attributed to acts of God or as a result of the forces of nature.

Skip to 2 minutes and 13 secondsBut ask yourself: what are the consequences of this view?

The big question

Welcome to the Coventry University Online open course Emergencies and Disasters: Trends and Issues.

To get you started on this course and on the FutureLearn platform we’d like you to discuss the question that will form the central theme of this course.

In the 21st century, is it still appropriate to deal with emergencies and disasters as individual, one-off events, and to view them as taking place largely in isolation from the society in which they occur?

If you have some experience of emergency management you may wish to share some of your experiences and discuss how a broader view could help in the preparation and management of disasters and emergencies.

Have a look at other learners’ comments. If you can relate to a comment someone else has made, why not ‘Like’ it or leave a reply? You can filter comments in a variety of ways including ‘Most liked’ and you can also ‘Bookmark’ comments.

If you want to see all the recent comments on the course, just select the Activity icon. If you’re following someone, you can filter this list to show only the comments of people you’re following or those comments that you’ve bookmarked.

To get the very best learning experience from FutureLearn, find out more from these 6 tips and tools for social learning and 5 more tips and tools for social learning. Don’t forget, whilst robust debate is encouraged, it’s important that you follow the FutureLearn Code of conduct and are respectful of your fellow learners

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Emergencies and Disasters: Trends and Issues

Coventry University