How to improve community disaster resilience through pre-event long-term recovery planning

Thought I’d share my fifteen guidelines for creating pre-event long-term recovery plans/frameworks based on past work I’ve done with local jurisdictions and reviewing plans from other jurisdictions. To me, pre-event long-term recovery planning (PELTRP?!) is a big blindspot for most state and local jurisdictions. Honestly I think PELTRP should be the keystone for all other types of emergency management plans–CEMPs, HMPs, etc. to more effectively increase community resilience (at least with respect to the local or state government itself). Basically a jurisdiction can start by facilitating visioning for what recovery should be and help back out how to build the capacity across emergency management roles, as well as other government functions, to achieve that vision during future disasters. For example, a PELTRP process may change current priorities within a jurisdiction’s mitigation plan. The following guidelines can be used to scope a new planning process, a plan revision, or integration with other types of plans (e.g. comprehensive plans):

  • Ensure the document and framework are accessible, engaging, and innovative
  • Use a collaborative and participatory development approach that creates credibility and legitimacy
  • Take an evidence based development approach that incorporates researchers and research findings
  • Outline specifically what pre-event actions can be taken and address those priorities ASAP
  • Conceptualize a nuanced but operable definition of recovery that can balance supply-demand, speed-deliberation, and change-normalcy tensions
  • Define recovery support functions that are conceptually based in order to be transferable, familiar, and consistent with other frameworks
  • Create clear and unambiguous guides for each RSF/environment that is detailed enough to be actionable
  • Construct an agreed upon and implementable governance structure that articulates recovery-specific roles in relation to existing internal roles, others jurisdictions, stakeholders, and the community
  • Maximize and reconcile the integration of business-as-usual and recovery operations to promote familiarity, organizational acceptance, and readiness
  • Boldly define the role, responsibilities, and authorities of the recovery manager(s) in a way that maximizes decision autonomy, financial independence, and delegative capacity
  • Map out the parties to and the levels of collaboration within the recovery governance structure with respect to decisions and information flow
  • Articulate in detail the criticality of financial resources and financial management in recovery throughout the framework
  • Across the framework, build in capacity for flexibility, adaptability, scalability, and risk tolerance
  • Address now and plan for recovery progress monitoring and data practices to inform post-event decision making, as well as public awareness
  • Detail a collaborative process model for post-event community engagement that accounts for geography, values, needs, and visions