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From the Black Death to Covid-19: what history can teach us about managing crises and coming out stronger

Whether the plague, the world wars or now coronavirus, serious crises reorder societies. With effort and imagination, can we shake off a nightmare and wake ourselves into a brighter tomorrow?

Illustration: Pete Reynolds

In the autumn of 1954, when I was 10, we had a hurricane in Toronto. We were surprised; tropical storms were not meant to come that far inland or north. Hurricane Hazel hit hard: the winds howled and sheets of rain hammered down; tree branches snapped; our street became a stream, and the power went out. Creeks and rivers throughout southern Ontario turned into raging torrents that carried away roads, bridges and, horribly, barns and houses, sometimes with their unfortunate inhabitants inside.

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