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The Land Surveyor’s Role After a Natural Disaster

Land surveyor

No place is safe from natural disasters and the number of them seems to grow every year. Some parts of the world experience typhoons and cyclones. Some deal with tornadoes and hurricanes. Few locations are flood-free. According to Live Science, it’s not just the volume of severe events that’s ticking up, it’s also the severity.

A natural disaster can blur property boundaries, alter land use and create confusion for land owners as well as the community. As a land surveyor, you can help put the pieces back together, even if they fit differently from the way that they did before.

After Disaster Relief, Then Comes Rebuilding

In the immediate wake of a natural disaster, search and rescue, shelter and other emergency relief efforts come front and center. Soon after, communities start to rebuild. Land surveyors can take an active role in this part of disaster relief, says Leslie & Thompson Surveyors,  as businesses and residents try to move ahead.

Not every disaster creates property confusion, but many of them do. For example, a hurricane or tidal wave can severely erode coastal land leaving it almost unrecognizable from the way it was before. Flooding and landslides can alter the land, as well. Earthquakes may have such as powerful effect, they upend boundaries and land markers almost effortlessly.

Land surveyor

A post-disaster community might look very different from before.

Land Surveyors Reestablish Boundaries and Determine Flood Elevations

With markers gone and the lay of the land different from before, land use might also change. For example, a landslide could transform property where a house once stood on an unusable slope. A change in elevation could make property unsafe for rebuilding, as well, with a disproportionate risk of flooding.

Ownership of property is a vital part of the disaster recovery mindset, explains Leslie & Thompson, even if what’s owned bears little resemblance to what once stood. When property is greatly altered and old boundaries are useless, land surveyors may work to develop a redistribution plan that’s fair and equitable for everyone involved.

Surveyors After a Disaster May Have Many Jobs

While mapping and re-establishing property boundaries is a primary job, land surveyors help restore a sense of normalcy in many other ways. According to the International Federation of Surveyors, assuring “sound human settlements for internally displaced persons and refugees is the number one goal.

Beyond immediate safety, the Federation says land surveyor work may help in any or all of the following areas:

  • Dispute resolution
  • Conflict management
  • Land tenure issues
  • Protection of property rights

Regardless of the cause, natural disasters are growing in both intensity and number. As more and more severe earthquakes and storms occur, the land may continue to take on a very different appearance with altered topography, shifted boundaries and whole communities rendered unsafe.

As a land surveyor, your work is much more than locating markers so a suburban property owner can erect a fence. You can help communities rebuild the physical world and restore the mindset that it takes to break ground after a disaster strikes.

Because you never know when disaster will strike, staying current with continuing education matters even more. Check out our courses for land surveyors so you’ll always be ready.

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