Assignment on Disaster Recovery

Recovery is a multistage process through which people and organizations move at varying rates. Communities, no matter the kind of hazard or geographic location, will face similar challenges during recovery, including removing debris, rebuilding homes and business, repairing roads and bridges, restoring utilities, and managing recovery resources. Recovery efforts will also require attention to unique community features, including localized and regional matters that tie people to cultural, historical, and environmental resources.

One of the most common desires heard after a disaster is to “return to normalcy”. Media reports often feature individuals who declare their intent to ‘rebuild back, stronger than ever.” But what is “normal”? Will a return to what was normal reduce future risks? If a community desires to rebuild stronger than ever, what does that mean? Will political will and public support exist to enssure a stronger return?

What does it mean to recover? A variety of terms are often used synonymously to mean recovery, but in reality these may have different meanings to different people: rebuilding, reconstruction, restoration, rehabilitation, restitution, and recovery (Quarantelli 1998b).

Recovery as a Process:  Today, most emergency managers and researchers view recovery as a process, defined as a series of stages, steps, and sequences that people, organizations, and communities move through at varying rates. The recovery process also typically involves two major subphases called short-term and long-term recovery.

Types of Recovery:

i) Short-term recovery

ii) Long-term recovery

i) Short-term recovery
FEMA (FEMA IS-1) defines short-term efforts as those that return “vital life support systems to minimum operating standards”. Short-term recovery efforts usually include a transition from response activities to recovery efforts. Response activities focus on saving lives, including search and rescue; providing food, shelter, and clothing; and moving into activities that expedite the transition to long-term recovery. Key transitional activities usually center on managing donations and volunteers, conducting damage assessments, securing temporary housing, restoring lifelines, and clearing debris.

ii) Long-term recovery
FEMA’s view of long-term recovery activities is that they “may continue for a number of years after a disaster. Their purpose is to return life to normal or improved levels”. Long-term recovery activities serve as the primary focus of Part 2 in this book, and these include debris management, the environment, historical preservation, housing, business, critical infrastructure (roads, bridges, ports), lifelines (power, electricity, sewer), psychological recovery, an d the public sector. The long-term recovery period can be viewed as an opportunity to foster improvements in the built environment in order to reduce the impact of future disasters.

Recovery: Presidential Declarations:
When local and state officials cannot meet the needs generated by the disaster, the federal government an assist. Consequently, local officials must understand how to access that aid and what conditions influence the type of aid that they can receive. In this section, we overview the process of requesting federal support.