After a week of relentless rain and punishing mudslides, people in the Durban area of South Africa turn now to rebuilding. The historic flooding, which destroyed nearly 4,000 homes and claimed 448 lives, caused one of the deadliest natural disasters in the country’s history. In an address to his country earlier this week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that more than 40,000 people have been displaced from their homes. An additional 8,300 houses have been damaged on top of the thousands destroyed.
Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, and allocated $67 million to help those hit by the floods. South Africa’s military has deployed 10,000 troops to help with search and rescue efforts, and to deliver food, water, and clothing to flood victims, according to the Associated Press.
Federal efforts such as these are necessary to rebuild infrastructure and treat victims. At the same time, when disaster strikes, social connections play a critical role in keeping people safe and enabling them to bounce back, according to a body of research by Daniel Aldrich, professor of political science and public policy at Northeastern. So, in the days and weeks after these devastating floods, what should people in the region do? Aldrich, who directs the Security and Resilience Studies Program, offers some insight.