After Great Disasters
“After Great Disasters offers one of the most well-researched accounts of large-scale, post-disaster recovery programs in several countries. The case studies highlight the common strands of successful recovery programs: effective governance, intensive planning, transparent implementation, and civic participation. The book raises the complex issues and trade-offs underlying recovery programs and takes a nuanced view of recovery, which balances rebuilding livelihoods and social networks with reconstructing houses and infrastructure. This book is essential reading for students and practitioners of post-disaster recovery.”
— Krishna S. Vatsa, Recovery Advisor, Bureau for Policy and Program Support, United Nations Development Programme
The aftermath of great natural disasters and the management of the recovery process have an enormous effect on the lives of citizens and can change the future of a city or region forever. This report and the authors’ in-depth book on the same topic identify lessons from six countries that have faced significant disaster recovery challenges and employed different management approaches: China, New Zealand, Japan, India, Indonesia, and the United States. Each of these governments faced considerable uncertainty and had to balance the tensions between speed and deliberation, between restoration and betterment.
Through examining these case studies, the authors offer the following recovery recommendations that reflect a set of core principles: primacy of information, stakeholder involvement, and transparency.
- Enhance existing government structures and systems to promote information flow and collaboration.
- Emphasize data management, communication, transparency, and accountability. Plan and act simultaneously involving continuous monitoring, evaluating, and correcting.
- Budget for the costs of communication and planning. Increase capacity and empower the governmental levels closest to the disaster to implement actions.
- Avoid permanent relocation of residents and communities except in rare instances when public safety and welfare are at risk, and only with full participation of residents.
- Although speed is important, reconstruction should not be a race.
About the Authors
Laurie A. Johnson, Ph.D., AICP, is an internationally recognized urban planner specializing in disaster recovery and catastrophe risk management. She has an extensive portfolio of disaster recovery expertise following earthquakes, landslides, floods, hurricanes, and man-made disasters across the United States and the world. In 2006, she was a lead author of the recovery plan for the City of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina; she then co-authored the book Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans with Robert Olshansky.
Robert B. Olshansky, Ph.D., FAICP, is professor and head of the department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where he has taught for more than 26 years. He has published extensively on post-disaster recovery planning, policy for earthquake risks, hillside planning and landslide policy, and environmental impact assessment. He co-authored Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans with Laurie Johnson, as well as the report Opportunity in Chaos: Rebuilding after the 1994 Northridge and 1995 Kobe Earthquakes with Laurie Johnson and Ken Topping.