Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction

PAS Report 483/484

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

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This report is available free to all because it has been superseded by a more recent edition.

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.

Specific chapters provide guidance for identifying local natural hazards, assessing risk, and outlining the process of developing and implementing plans for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. Appendices include a list of key federal contacts and a glossary of disaster terminology.

This report was prepared under a cooperative agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 1998
Adobe PDF

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 Smart Legislative Guidebook (Chapter 7: Local Comprehensive Plans)