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Former presidential advisor Stephen Flynn to speak on preparing for disasters

No one can prevent natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti or Hurricane Katrina, said Stephen Flynn.

But sometimes, it’s not the disaster itself that’s catastrophic — it’s the government’s inability to prepare for these inevitable events.

Flynn, president of the Center for National Policy, will speak at the FedEx Global Education Center on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

A retired Coast Guard commander, Flynn served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and is a former adviser on homeland security for the U.S. Commission on National Security.

He was also the lead homeland security adviser on President Barack Obama’s transition team.

Flynn’s lecture, “Katrina, Haiti, Deepwater Horizon: Building a More Resilient World,” will focus on preparing for major disruptive events, whether they’re man-made, terrorist attacks or natural disasters.

“The nature of where we live and how we live puts us at a greater risk,” Flynn said Tuesday. “Rather than imagine a world with eliminated risk, we really need to get the skill set to be more resilient and recover when things go wrong.”

During the latter half of the 20th century, Flynn said, the United States has emphasized prevention as opposed to preparedness.

That needs to change, he said.

“It’s pragmatic and intelligent for us to invest time and energy to how we live with risk and to learn to rapidly recover when we’re knocked down, rather than spend enormous resources for what we can’t achieve — which is to eliminate risk,” he said.

“We have to pull ourselves up from the bootstraps and transition better.”

The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and the UNC Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters are sponsoring the event.

Flynn said he will be in North Carolina for a day and a half, and he will be speaking to classes and faculty leaders with the Triangle Institute for Security Studies and the UNC Department of Peace, War and Defense.

Wayne Lee, chairman of the peace, war and defense curriculum, emphasized the importance of speakers like Flynn in providing students with opportunities to hear from government employees.

“We want to have a chance for students to listen to and interact with people who had responsible roles with dealing with security issues with government,” Lee said.

“The education that we’re giving the students who are interested in working for government or dealing with issues of security, we want to be as broadly based and humanistic as possible. But we also want them to be informed by people in the real world.”

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