It's critical to plan for future natural disasters rather than simply reacting after they occur, Susan L. Cutter, a professor of geography at the University of South Carolina, writes in this opinion article. "Present disaster policies lack mechanisms for fostering disaster resilience, instead privileging short-term gains and interests over long-term commitment and investments for the future," she writes. Zoning laws, development decisions and hazard-mitigation initiatives can all influence the damage done by natural disasters, she notes.

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