Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction (PAS 483/484)

By James Schwab, FAICP, Kenneth Topping, FAICP, Charles Eadie, Robert Deyle, Richard Smith

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This is the first all-hazards guidance manual for local planners developing plans for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. It includes a model ordinance and case studies of five different hazard scenarios: flood, earthquake, tornado, wildfire, and hurricane. The report also offers planning tools for managing long-term community recovery after a natural disaster.

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Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 1998
APA Planning Advisory Service

About the Authors

James Schwab
Mr. Schwab joined the American Planning Association in November 1985. Originally the assistant editor of Planning, APA's monthly magazine, he joined APA’s research department in August 1990. He serves as the co-editor of a monthly publication, Zoning Practice. He is the Manager of APA’s Hazards Planning Center in the Chicago office. Mr. Schwab is currently managing three FEMA-funded projects for the Hazards Planning Center. The first two are Subdivision Design in Flood Hazard Areas, which will result in a PAS Report in September 2016; and the Planning Information Exchange, a series of peer-exchange webinars on hazard mitigation planning. Both involve the Association of State Floodplain Managers as a partner organization. The third began in October 2015, Innovations in Planning and Public Engagement for Local Resilience, and involves University of California-San Diego, Placeways LLC, and National Charrette Institute as partners. He is also currently involved in two NOAA-funded projects. One is nationally focused with the Association of State Floodplain Managers as the lead partner; it aims to help communities incorporate climate data into capital improvements planning. The other is led by APA, with Jim as the project manager, and is focused on the Great Lakes, with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and the University of Illinois as partners; its purpose is to work with pilot communities in metropolitan Chicago on incorporating climate data into comprehensive plans and capital improvements programs. Both started in 2016. Mr. Schwab was the project manager for “Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation,” an ambitious effort funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to completely rewrite Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Redevelopment (1998), which APA produced under a cooperative agreement with FEMA. This effort included substantial multimedia web tools including the Recovery News blog and a series of briefing papers. Mr. Schwab was also project manager and general editor for the FEMA-funded APA Planning Advisory Report, Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning, released in May 2010. He was the general editor and project manager for Planning for Drought, a PAS Report released in January 2014 and produced under a subcontract with the University of Nebraska’s National Drought Mitigation Center. Under an APA subcontract with the Association of State Floodplain Managers, he has also been involved in a project providing training and online resources to communities affected by Great Lakes coastal hazards. Mr. Schwab was the sole author of two PAS Reports in the 1990s, Industrial Performance Standards for a New Century and Planning and Zoning for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. He served as the project manager for a FEMA-supported project in which APA has developed training for planners on the planning provisions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, and for the Firewise Communities Post-Workshop Assessment. With Stuart Meck, he co-authored the 2005 PAS Report, Planning for Wildfires. He was also the principal investigator and primary author of Tribal Transportation Programs, produced for the Transportation Research Board. He was the project manager and general editor for the PAS Report, Planning the Urban Forest: Ecology, Economy, and Community Development, released in January 2009, and led the subsequent development of a training workshop based on that report, with a matching grant from the U.S. Forest Service. Finally, Mr. Schwab is APA’s lead representative for its partnership with NOAA’s Digital Coast. Mr. Schwab has worked overseas several times on hazard-related planning: in the Dominican Republic overseeing site planning training in 2001, in Sri Lanka following the Indian Ocean tsunami, speaking at a disaster recovery conference in Taiwan in 2006, as a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Advanced Engineering in New Zealand in 2008, and speaking in May 2013 at a European Union conference on cities and climate change in Venice, Italy. Mr. Schwab is also the author of two books. The first, Raising Less Corn and More Hell: Midwestern Farmers Speak Out, was published in 1988 by the University of Illinois Press. It is an oral history of the farm crisis that affected the Midwest during the 1980s. The second, Deeper Shades of Green: The Rise of Blue-Collar and Minority Environmentalism in America, was released by Sierra Club Books in the fall of 1994. He is presently developing plans for a two-book series about the 1993 and 2008 Midwest floods.

Kenneth Topping

Charles Eadie

Robert Deyle

Richard Smith

Table of Contents


1. The role of planners in post-disaster reconstruction
The process of recovery and reconstruction • What the research says • The growing cost of natural disasters • The importance of mitigation in post-disaster reconstruction • The role of planners in hazard mitigation and in reconstruction planning

2. A primer in disaster operations
State and local roles in response and recovery • The road to a disaster declaration

3. Policies for guiding planning for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction
Long-term goals and short-term goals • Economic recovery • Mitigation • Connecting the dots • Using disaster assistance effectively

4. The planning process
Forming a task force • Developing community consensus and vision • Hazard identification and risk assessment • Elements of the post-disaster plan

5. A planner's tool kit
Emergency measures • Long-term measures • A model recovery and reconstruction ordinance • The text of a model recovery and reconstruction ordinance

6. Legal and financial issues
Legal issues • Financial issues

7. Hazard identification and risk assessment
Earthquakes • Seiches and tsunamis • Volcanoes • Landslides • Hurricanes and coastal storms • Tornadoes • Floods • Wildfires

8. Flood case study: Arnold, Missouri
The 1993 floods • The emergency in Arnold • Prelude to a disaster • 1993 floods: impact and aftermath • Proof in the pudding • Observations and recommendations

9. Tornado case study: Plainfield, Illinois
The Will County, Illinois, tornado • Clearing the floodway • Recommendations and observations

10. Hurricane case study: Opal in the Florida Panhandle
The case study protocol • Summary of key findings • Hurricane Opal and its impacts • The planning context of Hurricane Opal • Community recovery after Opal • Key planning issues in Opal experience • Observations and recommendations • Notes

11. Wildfire case study: Oakland, California
The 1991 firestorm • Chronology • Key planning issues • Observations and recommendations

12. Earthquake case study: Loma Prieta in Santa Cruz and Watsonville, California
Chronology • Administrative/emergency response • Economic recovery • Housing • Historic preservation • Seismic safety planning and building codes • Urban design • Politics and recovery • Observations and recommendations • Notes

A. Reference list

B. Glossary of key technical terms

C. Disaster recovery programs, federal response plan

D. Directory of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offices

E. The natural hazards element in the GROWING SMARTsm LEGISLATIVE GUIDEBOOK (Chapter 7ùLocal Comprehensive Plans)