Disasters break with normal routines and so the responses to disasters often require exceptional policies and unusual mobilization of people, know-how, capital, and goods. However, even exceptional interventions and measures are still conditioned by the institutional, social, and cultural layout of the society in question. Moreover, disaster responses are often – though not always – inspired by the memory of reacting to similar challenges in the past. Chapter 5 opens with a discussion of the coordination of disaster responses, with a particular emphasis on the role of ‘experts’ and ‘expertise’ and the importance of learning from disaster. Subsequently, the question is raised as to why responses were not always as effective as they could have been, and why societies do not automatically adapt their infrastructure or organization in appropriate ways to prevent the recurrence of disaster. In explaining the differing directions of disaster responses, we highlight two crucial variables revealed by history: social inequality and institutional rigidity.