Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery:
Next Generation

  • A late-season Hurricane Sandy slams into the New Jersey shore, colliding with a winter storm to produce high-tide storm surges in Manhattan and Atlantic City, a blizzard in West Virginia, and massive power outages and evacuations throughout the Northeast (October 2012).
  • An earthquake, followed by a tsunami, followed by a nuclear emergency, in northern Japan, with a death toll that continues to rise (March 2011).
  • An earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, that follows another tremor five months earlier (February 2011).
  • An earthquake and tsunami¬†in Chile (March 2010).
  • An earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that kills more than 200,000 people (February 2010).
  • Hurricane Ike devastates Galveston, Texas, and nearby areas (September 2008).

What becomes of these communities and regions afterwards? How long does it take to rebuild? Is there anything communities can do to speed the process, to reduce the losses, to become more resilient?

The simple answer is yes. It is the details of how we achieve resilience that become considerably more complicated, but they are important to planners and to the futures of the communities they serve. It is also absolutely vital that planning research seek out the answers, identify the best practices, and make clear how they relate to the unique circumstances of each new community that experiences a disaster and faces the need for long-term reconstruction. We have much to learn, much to share. But the first goal of planning must be the public safety of the places where we choose to live.

APA first sought to meet that need with its 1998 PAS Report, Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction (No. 483/484). But time and tragedy have made it increasingly urgent that we update the tools and concepts of that classic publication. APA has teamed up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on a three-year project to accomplish that goal.

Our current project got under way in October 2010, with the aim not only of producing another PAS Report, but also of providing ready-to-use online information for practitioners.

The pages here, including the Recovery News blog, are intended to serve that purpose and keep users current on the status of this critical project.

Recovery News

Recovery News is a multimedia blog providing news, ideas, and perspectives on community planning for post-disaster recovery.

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Model Pre-Event Recovery Ordinance

Under this project, APA has prepared an annotated model pre-event recovery ordinance designed to assist communities in preparing before a hazardous event for better managing the process of recovery after a disaster. The author of this model ordinance is Kenneth C. Topping, FAICP, one of the authors of the PAS Report that is still in development as the core product of this project. This model ordinance is not final. We encourage planners to read and review the ordinance and provide informed comment between now and the month of April. This ordinance will also be included in the presentations at the Sandy recovery workshops scheduled in New York and New Jersey April 1-5, 2013.

Read the ordinance (pdf)

The period for comments has now closed. Thanks to all of you who offered suggestions.

Case Studies

Detailed case studies, both domestic and international, share community planning lessons for recovery and long-term reconstruction after natural disasters.

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Symposium on Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery

In 2011, APA hosted a scoping symposium to explore a number of essential issues in guiding the Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation project as it moves forward.

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Project Rationale

What are the needs that drove this new project idea forward? APA laid out nine clear and specific reasons for the project in a needs assessment it shared with federal officials in FEMA and other agencies.

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