Disaster scenario

Scenarios are descriptions of plausible events that may occur in the future, leading to a particular set of outcomes. In relation to resilient infrastructure, disaster scenarios are based on assumptions about key driving forces, infrastructure interdependencies for a deeper understanding of causality of disruption and failure in the event(s) of a disaster. They include the hazard, vulnerability, and exposure characteristics that predict or project a future disaster of determined magnitude, impact, and effect.


1. Disaster scenarios can help articulate measures required to build the resilience of an infrastructure system based on characteristics of risk that may result from one or more of the drivers mentioned above. See also “Disaster risk drivers”.


Modified from Strong, K., Carpenter, O., Ralph, D. (2020). Scenario Best Practices: Developing Scenarios for Disaster Risk Reduction. Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School and Lighthill Risk Network, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Use of disaster risk scenario to build back better in New Orleans, USA

Located below sea level and surrounded by large bodies of water, the city of New Orleans in the United States of America (USA) is prone to hurricanes and flooding. The devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 led the city to develop a disaster risk scenario to assess its infrastructure’s potential vulnerability to future hurricanes. The scenario analyzed different levels of storm surge and wind speed and their consequences for buildings, roads, and critical infrastructure. Based on the analysis, the
city implemented several measures to enhance its infrastructure’s disaster resilience. These included reinforcing buildings and critical infrastructure, improving evacuation routes, and investing in better early warning systems. Additionally, the city elevated homes in flood-prone areas and rebuilt them using stronger building codes. The disaster risk scenario was critical in the city’s efforts to reduce the risk of future hurricanes and to build a more resilient infrastructure capable of withstanding the
hazards’ impacts.


Source: Link, L. E., Foster, J. L., Patev, R. C., Jones, H. W., Baecher, G. B., McCann, M. W., & McAllister, T. (2009). A general description of vulnerability to flooding and risk for New Orleans and vicinity: past, present and future. US Army Corps of Engineers.