NYC Recovery Planning and Management

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You'll learn about:

  • How planners and financial managers work together in communicating with chief elected officials, governing bodies, and appointed executives about disaster-recovery policy

  • How regulatory and grantor agencies influence recovery policy, and how local government managers cope with funder requirements

  • The interface between resilience strategies and project management to repair or rebuild infrastructure, support neighborhood revitalization, and assist property owners

  • Disaster-recovery strategies in other states as discovered by surveys of state governments and their varied organizational structures

The scale of damage to the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 is well known. Whether measured in numbers of buildings or repair costs, quantities are large, roughly equal to Hurricane Katrina seven years earlier. As the largest municipality, New York had the greatest damage: four major hospitals, 34 public schools, 33 public housing developments, 10 wastewater treatment plants, 400 parks, 20,000 residences, 20,000 trees. In all, 2.3 million cubic yards of debris was hauled away during recovery efforts. Beyond recovery from this damage, the city also made an unprecedented plan for ways to rebuild stronger, to become more resilient and more sustainable.

Hear experts talk frankly about New York's complex recovery efforts. Featured speakers include the manager in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, responsible for all contracts and payments to carry out recovery, as well as an academic researcher who developed state comparisons of ways disaster recovery is managed, the roles assumed by state and local governments in recovery efforts, and the actions of governors. Dive into examples and case studies that describe the post-disaster intersection of financial management and planning and illustrate how federal and state agencies interact with city recovery objectives. 

Product Details

About the Speakers

John Grathwol
• John Grathwol is a Deputy Director at the New York City Office of Management and Budget (OMB). He manages over 40 full-time staff, and a team of technical specialists directing the City’s $14.5 billion Hurricane Sandy federally funded cost recovery. In this capacity he serves as the City’s lead in advocating and negotiating with Federal agencies, and coordinating recovery activities across the City’s 53 operating agencies. In addition, Mr. Grathwol supervises the quarterly forecasts of the City’s $5 billion miscellaneous revenue budget and manages OMB’s Accounting Services Unit. Mr. Grathwol has been involved in tax policy and economic forecasting at OMB for more than 25 years. During that time, he helped prepare the City’s tax revenue budget, developed policy responses to Federal, State and local tax law changes and developed and presented policy recommendations to the Mayor. In addition to his work developing the City’s policy positions, Mr. Grathwol has been recognized as a leader in financial recovery and presented disaster recovery topics at several national conferences at the invitation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Advisory Council, and Moody’s Investors Service. Before joining OMB, Mr. Grathwol was an employee of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and for a consulting firm in Minnesota. Mr. Grathwol graduated from the University of St. Thomas. He holds an M.A. in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Gavin Smith
Dr. Smith is the Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence, a consortium of universities located across the country. He is currently engaged in a number of planning and policy-related research projects within the center including an assessment of the role governor’s and state agency officials play in disaster recovery. As Director, he leads the 10-hour Graduate Certificate Program in Natural Hazards Resilience. Dr. Smith is also a Research Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following Hurricane Matthew, Dr. Smith was appointed as a Senior Recovery Advisor to Governor Cooper and the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. In this role he advises the state on disaster recovery policy, assists communities develop disaster recovery plans, and links the resources of the University of North Carolina system with unmet state and local needs. Dr. Smith has published numerous book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, and technical reports addressing a range of topics including hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, and climate change adaptation. In 2011, Dr. Smith completed the text, Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework (Island Press) as well as several book chapters addressing the linkage between hazards analysis, planning, and sustainable development. Dr. Smith is the co-editor of the text, Adapting to Climate Change: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning (Springer 2014). Following Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Smith worked in the Mississippi Office of the Governor, serving as the Director of the Office of Recovery and Renewal. In this role, he and his staff focused on four primary tasks, including: the identification of federal, corporate, non-profit and foundation financial assistance; the provision of education, outreach and training to local governments and state agencies; providing counsel to the Governor, his staff and state agency officials regarding disaster recovery policy issues, and the implementation of the Governor’s Commission Report: After Katrina: Building Back Better than Ever. While in this position, he testified before Congress twice, providing recommended policy changes to improve the delivery of post-disaster recovery and reconstruction activities. He also helped develop the concept and wrote policy guidance associated with the 400 million-dollar Alternative Housing Pilot Program, an initiative intended to test the construction and deployment of improved emergency housing alternatives following Hurricane Katrina. In the 1990’s Dr. Smith served as the Assistant Director for Hazard Mitigation in the State of North Carolina. During his tenure with the Division, the Mitigation Section administered mitigation and disaster recovery grant funds in excess of 1.5 billion dollars associated with 10 Presidential disaster declarations. Much of these funds were used to acquire and relocate or elevate over 5,000 and 500 homes respectively. Following Hurricane Floyd, Dr. Smith served as an advisor to Governor Hunt on policies and programs associated with long-term recovery in North Carolina. This work led to the development of 22 state programs (totaling 836 million dollars) that addressed local needs not met by federal assistance, including the development of the State’s nationally recognized floodplain mapping initiative.