Healthy, Resilient and Sustainable Communities After Disasters.
New book from the NAS. Free download, but it is 550 pages! Some details from the abstract follow:
In the devastation that follows a major disaster, there is a need for multiple sectors to unite and devote new resources to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, the provision of health and social services, the restoration of care delivery systems, and other critical recovery needs. In some cases, billions of dollars from public, private and charitable sources are invested to help communities recover. National rhetoric often characterizes these efforts as a “return to normal.” But for many American communities, pre-disaster conditions are far from optimal. Large segments of the U.S. population suffer from preventable health problems, experience inequitable access to services, and rely on overburdened health systems. A return to pre-event conditions in such cases may be short-sighted given the high costs—both economic and social—of poor health. Instead, it is important to understand that the disaster recovery process offers a series of unique and valuable opportunities to improve on the status quo. Capitalizing on these opportunities can advance the long-term health, resilience, and sustainability of communities—thereby better preparing them for future challenges.
By coincidence, I am the founder of a unique new organization aimed at serving over 9000 retirees and their spouses in SC. We had our “volunteer day” today and our speaker made an important and relevant observation – “from weakness to strength, from strength to opportunity.” Community resilience should not just be about getting back to where you were, but also about getting to where you want to be.
I’ve found it useful to think in terms of three kinds of communities:
Type 1 – “the Weak” – have few resources. After a disaster, they will be lucky to break even UNLESS they have excellent leadership. If they do, they can hope to become…
Type 2 – “the Muddling Through” – have some real strengths they can nurture and use as a base to build on. In a disaster, they are likely to come back at least to the Old Normal. If they have excellent leadership, they are likely to become…
Type 3 – “the Opportunists” – which are able to find and seize the opportunities inherent in crises and to use them to advance themselves to where they want to be.
The key is that commodity in way too short supply (esp. at the national level!) – leadership. I was asked by a reporter some years ago what were the keys to successful recovery from a disaster. I answered that there were five – leadership, leadership, leadership, connections and resources, and that without leadership, the rest weren’t important.
I’ll be interested in reading the book – will it be another signpost saying we’re still 5487 miles from Nirvana, or a map telling us how to get there?
URL doesn’t seem to work.
Ken Curtin 347-668-7818
I think it is fixed now. Claire