Recovering from a natural disaster is a long process that continues well after the news coverage of the event has ceased. Organizations at all levels must work together to foster the recovery necessary to bring communities back to life. There are a variety of dimensions that come into play when considering what recovery in the face of a natural disaster actually means.
Start Small, But Think Big
The recovery process begins with picking up the debris and wreckage. However, this is just an initial step. Recovery must be focused on long-term goals in order for the efforts to truly be successful. Once the power has been restored, people are still left without homes and resources. FEMA defines the goals of long-term recovery as those that focus on “re-establishing a healthy, functioning community that will support itself over time.” This definition suggests that it is not enough to just ship in resources from abroad. The economic concerns of the area and infrastructure must be healed so that people to have the ability to help themselves.
Economies Must Be Nurtured
The services that are necessary for economies to thrive after a natural disaster have been well defined by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). These include the presence of financing, the development of long-term housing, supplemental support for local businesses, and the necessity of ensuring that local government services and facilities are the first institutions to recover. Research and surveys of business owners who have been through natural disasters cite some very specific items in terms of turning things around. They understand the need to open their doors again once facilities are repaired to safety standards.
Looking For Leaders
There is the immediate need for local leadership to keep the morale of the community high, giving people the feeling that they have the ability to survive. Local leaders encourage the helping hands of neighbors, sustain momentum in clean-up efforts, and ensure that available resources are getting to people who need them most. In addition to business owners, local leaders can be the home page that bridges the gap between the residents and the government support systems in place, facilitating clear communication and developing accurate progress reports.
The aftermath of natural disasters can seem to tear a community apart; however, the damage is only done physically. It is the ability of communities and individuals to maintain cohesion and stand solidly together that creates the spark necessary for recovery once a disaster has struck.