Book Review: The Community Resilience Handbook

The Community Resilience Handbook. Editors: George B. Huff, Jr.; Edward A. Thomas; and Nancy McNabb, Publisher: American Bar Association (ABA) Publishing, Chicago, Illinois, USA. August 2020. ISBN-10 : 1641057386; ISBN-13 : 978-1641057387; Pages: 470; paperback price $79.95 & Amazon paperback price $79.30 USD.

Contributors: Anthony H. Barash, Doug Bellomo, Donna A. E. Boyce, John C. Eidleman, Jessica Grannis, Jerry Graves, Ed Hecker, George B. Huff, Jr., Alessandra Jerolleman, Elle Klein, Eric B. Kretz, John Travis Marshall, Nancy McNabb, Rachel Minnery, Lynnda M. Nelson, Keith Porter, Maureen K. Roskovski, Joe Rossi, Gretchen F. Sassenrath, Philip Schneider, Duncan Shaw, Edward A. Thomas, Andrew Vansingel, David Vaughn, Charles Wallace, John D. Wiener, and Charlie Wildman.

Keywords: community resilience, whole community preparedness, litigation, disaster legal services, international standards on resilience, business continuity, continuity management, disaster risk insurance, safe design, disaster mitigation, professionalism in design

Reviewer: Irmak Renda-Tanali, D.Sc. is a disaster risk management specialist, and Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DeGruyter).

This new book is a guidebook that shares perspectives of legal experts and other professionals on the need to accelerate recovery and improve resilience over the long term, after any natural or human-induced disaster. It is written by leading thinkers in disaster preparedness and recovery planning. The authors come from the disciplines of law, architecture, engineering, insurance, and social sciences. Each chapter is written by (a) different author(s). The discussions are based on many years of practical experience and or research conducted by the authors.

The book is organized according to five parts, each covering a different feature of community resilience.

The first part is about understanding the structure of community resilience. It covers the different definitions of resilience as well as leadership, and governance in community resilience with planning and preparedness. The authors describe the concepts, perspectives, and frameworks of, and goal-setting for community resilience, based on impacts on the built environment recognized by licensed design professionals. They discuss the role of the whole community, especially the role of the attorneys using official planning documents such as the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association’s Disaster Risk Reduction Curriculum, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology Community Resilience Project. Hence they guide community decision-makers to ask the right questions in hazard identification, vulnerability and disaster risk assessment, and develop risk-informed solutions for ensuring community resilience.

Part two focuses on community resilience leadership, planning, and support, particularly the critical role that legal service attorneys play in representing disaster survivors and serving as key partners with the private bar, bar associations, and the ABA’s Young Lawyer Division (YLD) Disaster Legal Services. They also discuss the liability of design service providers, litigation for faulty design, and the political process in answering questions like “who gets what, when, and how”.

Part three covers the topic of community resilience operations and performance. The discussion focuses on how businesses are making communities more resilient through corporate social responsibility and how public sector preparedness planning can integrate business continuity into community resilience. The discussion focuses on public-private-partnerships including insurance mechanisms, cost-benefit analysis of incentivization approaches, climate-change considerations, and the legal, economic, and moral imperatives provisioned by the U.S. Constitution for safe design.

Part four covers maintaining resilience in the whole community, with advice for civil engineers, and decision and policymakers in cost-effective but safe design and construction practices under the evolving natural hazard spectrum. A discussion on Practical Community Resilience (PRC) approach that aims to achieve life cycle disaster risk reduction and community resilience is presented from real-life/practical perspectives. A discussion on agricultural resilience through a legal perspective is also presented in this chapter.

Part five, the final part of the book, covers the validation and improvement of community resilience through training and education, building cohesive teams, and adaptation of best practices and tested frameworks.  A practical eight-step process is introduced for developing a culture of continuity for the whole community. Another discussion is on the International standards of ISO 2231-Guidelines for Planning the Involvement of Spontaneous Volunteers and ISO-22392 Conducting Peer Reviews for Disaster Risk Reduction and their applications for community resilience building in Chile with a special call on sharing best practices across the globe.

The book’s contribution is its call to action to lawyers, law firms, bar associations, as well as engineers, architects, and other design professionals as key partners in community resilience building. The main theme is keeping businesses as profitable and active partners in disaster resilience while adhering to legal and ethical standards and commonly accepted frameworks. This book, with the top-notch experts providing action-based insight into the key areas of community resilience, provides a refreshing account of better ways of understanding and building community resilience.

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