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Hofstra Law Review

Abstract

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and a slew of other natural disasters affecting the United States, all Americans cannot help thinking about effective damage control for current and future disasters. I grew up in Houston, Texas where we went through countless hurricanes, torrential rainstorms, and the resulting power outages, and after surviving each one, we inevitably thought: What can we do to prepare better for the next one? Preparing to be self-sufficient in the aftermath of a life-changing disaster should be a top priority not just for individuals but for the government as well. After all, the more prepared individuals are in the face of a disaster, the less assistance the government needs to provide. Unfortunately, government bodies of all levels are actually part of the problem underlying the devastating effects of natural disasters because, whether by accident or design, the government has disseminated the message that preparing oneself to be self-sufficient far too difficult, or even illegal. Scholars have tip-toed around this topic by discussing ways to minimize disaster risk through macro-level preparation efforts. But this article is the first to address the problems confronting disaster preparation at the individual and more personal level.

This article starts by laying out the foundation of why self-sufficient preparation is vital. Then, it walks through a wide variety of actual and apparent legal barriers and disincentives to self-sufficient disaster preparation at all government levels — federal, state, and local. Finally, it briefly touches on existing and prospective legal incentives for self-sufficiency and contends that incentivizing disaster preparation should be the goal of all governments throughout the nation.

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