As noted before, disasters have their cultural aspects: Disasters are embedded in cultural practices of societies. "Disasters do not just happen."
Anthropologist Anthony Oliver-Smith says in an interview about the earthquake in South Asia:
People often believe that nearly all environmental disasters are natural disasters when in fact many are the result of human actions, such as unsustainable use of natural resources. Even in the case of the recent earthquake in Pakistan, the majority of the deaths and displaced people can be attributed to the failure of building structures and their location.
A recent expert panel at Louisiana State University stated that the Katrina disaster actually has roots in 1700 when the French settlers started building levees in an attempt to stop flooding from the Mississippi River. Hurricane Katrina's effects are the consequences of natural forces combined with the way people have engineered the landscape as far back as the early 1700s:
"It was not just a meteorological event, it was a social event as well," said Craig Colten, professor of geography at LSU.
John Pine, interim chair of LSU's department of geography and anthropology, said rebuilding will need to include recognizing how people have changed the landscape around New Orleans and how that could affect flooding and storm damage in the future. In doing that, he said, it's important to include the unique culture and heritage of neighborhoods instead of imposing outside ideas on people.
Helen Regis, associate professor of anthropology, agreed.
"The people who live in New Orleans are the main experts on how to rebuild," Regis said.
>> read more in The Advocate (Louisiana) (copy of article)