The Effects of Pre-Disaster Recovery Plans on Post-Disaster Recovery Among Socially Vulnerable Populations

A growing number of local governments are adopting pre-disaster recovery plans, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Such plans can strengthen a community’s resilience to future disasters. However, the quality of the recovery planning process, the plans themselves, and their impact on disaster recovery, especially among socially vulnerable populations, has been largely ignored in the scholarly literature. The aim of the proposed research, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is to examine links between the pre-disaster recovery planning process, plan quality, plan implementation and the resilience of socially vulnerable populations.

Disaster recovery remains the least understood component of community respond to disasters. We know little about how to incorporate vulnerable groups in the disaster planning process to achieve more equitable distribution of resources and better outcomes for vulnerable populations.

The proposed research will help guide future recovery planning efforts in ways that take advantage of the intrinsic strengths and assets of vulnerable populations, including nontraditional leadership structures, informal communication channels, and strong cultural ties, in order to enhance community resilience to disasters. While this project cannot right the wrongs of social disparities, it can recognize if and how community and household capacity to undertake coordinated action with public officials affects plan quality and outcomes and raises awareness and reduces risk among socially vulnerable populations in disasters.

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