Guidance for Business Community Post Disaster

Restore your Economy is a website maintained by the International Economic Development Council, sponsored by the Economic Development Agency of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

It provides resources and best practice information for public and private stakeholders who are seeking to rebuild their local economies after an economic disruption, be it a natural disaster or man-made crisis, as well as assisting the business community in preparing for a disruption.

It is a one-stop shop of disaster preparedness, post-disaster economic recovery, and economic resiliency resources, tools, event announcements as well as opportunities to connect with peers through social media groups.

Economic Development and Disasters

Today Ms Emily Brown of IEDC is our guest blogger to tell us about the work of her organization. The economics of disasters is an important topic and deserves more attention

IEDC Addresses the Economic Development Piece of Disaster Recovery

Disasters impact communities on every level. After addressing health and safety concerns, one of the larger issues communities face is how to ensure the health of their economy. When businesses are damaged and workforce is displaced, jobs can be on the line. Economic developers can help to mitigate the effects of a disaster on an economy, leading to a full recovery and a stronger community.

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base.  

Since 2005, the International Economic Development Council has been assisting economic development professionals in disaster impacted communities. We have worked in Louisiana, Missisippi, Missouri, Alabama, North Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts after disasters such as hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and storms.  Our trainings and resources focus on disaster preparedness and economic recovery with a special concentration on economic developers’ role.

Information on IEDC reports and resources can be found on www.RestoreYourEconomy.org, a web portal that IEDC administers with funding from the Economic Development Administration. Resources cover issues such as business continuity and preparedness, business financing and retention, capacity building, economic diversification, federal resources, public-private partnerships, and tourism recovery. Additionally, the website features relevant information from other organizations involved in recovery.

IEDC also offers a free monthly Disaster Recovery webinar. The January webinar is entitled, “Lessons from the Field: Small Business Recovery Strategies After a Disaster.” It will take place on Tuesday, January 28th from 2:30 to 4:00. Future webinars will focus on business continuity planning, establishing a 501c-3, and long term recovery for businesses.

Deeper and Harder Analyses of the the Philippine Disaster

Granted that the humanitarian concerns are very great in the Philippines, but there are many other deep-seated problems that warrant attention. Here are two accounts provide a closer look a the tough problems in the Philippines:

  • Philippines Typhoon Response Highlights Weak Infrastructure. Some excerpts:

    Under a reforming president, the Philippines emerged as a rising economic star in Asia but the trail of death and destruction left by Typhoon Haiyan has highlighted a key weakness: fragile and patchy infrastructure after decades of neglect and corruption.

Haiyan’s devastation, however, underlines the pressing need to spend more money to build hard assets such as more roads, ports and power lines — not only to improve living standards but also to better withstand the storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters that strike the country with numbing regularity.

 In the Philippines, natural disasters are common; ways to reduce they’re impact aren’t.  Geography and poverty are part of the problem.  Some other concerns:

Over the past decades, Filipinos have flocked to risky, low-lying areas, havens for cheap and crammed housing. Officials here say the Philippines must also improve emergency training for distant local governments, enforce building codes and make sure that money earmarked for infrastructure ends up helping those whose homes are the most vulnerable.

What the World Should Learn From Disasters Past.

“... that relief and reconstruction are two different things..”

Excellent New Article – in Environment Magazine

Since Michelin ranks restaurants with stars, the Diva has decided to award stars to documents re recovery. Here is the first one I would give 4 stars to:

Making America More Resilience toward Natural Disasters: A Call For Action, by Howard Kunreuther, Erwann Michel-Kerjan and Mark Pauly. From Environment Magazine, July/August 2013.  The title does not really do justice to the wide array of useful content here, so I suggest you download the full article and decide for yourself how you would categorize it.

Some excerpts:

Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $65 billion in economic losses to residences, business owners, and infrastructure owners. It is the second most costly natural disaster in recent years in the United States, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it is not an outlier; economic and insured losses from devastating natural catastrophes in the United States and worldwide are climbing.

According to Munich Re,2 real-dollar economic losses from natural catastrophes alone have increased from $528 billion (1981–1990), to $1,197 billion (1991–2000), to $1,23 billion (2001–2010). During the past 10 years, the losses were principally due to hurricanes and resulting storm surge occurring in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Figure 1 depicts the evolution of the direct economic losses and the insured portion from great natural disasters over the period 1980–2012.2

There is a wealth of useful information in this article, which makes it hard to summarize. It is thoughtful and clearly writtten. I consider this an essential document, one that I think will be a classic in time.

Businss Recovery After Superstorm Sandy

The American Planning Association New York Metro Chapter presented a report, Getting Back to Business: Addressing the Needs of Rockaway Businesses Affected by Superstorm Sandy, to the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC), culminating a seven-month effort to address business recovery and resilience on the Rockaway peninsula after Superstorm Sandy.

Despite best efforts, approximately half of the Rockaway’s 1,100 businesses are still closed. To address this, the chapter brought together dozens of planning experts to volunteer their services to develop medium and long-term strategies for RDRC, the peninsula’s largest community development corporation.

Read the full press release about the report at the APA New York Metro Chapter website or read the entire report:  “Getting Back to Business: Addressing the Needs of Rockaway Businesses Affected by Superstorm Sandy”

“How Gov’t Can Help the Economy Recovery from Sandy”

This article, How Government Can Help the Economy Recover From Sandy, raises some good points.  Even before FEMA was created (1979), some people have argued for a greater role for the Commerce Dept. and economic developement, but it never has happened.  Here is a new try, from Bloomberg News, Nov. 5.

If natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy are becoming more frequent, and their aftermaths more expensive, then the federal response needs to become more dynamic. Especially in fostering economic recovery, there’s more the U.S. government can do.

Some steps are small and obvious, yet still valuable. Barack Obama’s administration, to its credit, has made progress in cutting disaster-relief red tape, for example. Still, the patchwork of application requirements and eligibility criteria businesses must sort through to receive aid can be further streamlined and made more consistent across agencies.

It may also make sense to designate one federal agency as responsible for economic disaster relief. Whatever agency takes the lead (a report from the International Economic Development Council recommends the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration) should have a consistent, dedicated level of money on hand to respond to disasters. The IEDC suggests $100 million. This would free up cash quickly and help insulate economic disaster relief from political manipulation.

VERY USEFUL REPORT: The direct line to the IEDC report is here; it’s titled ” An Improved Federal Resonse to Post-Disaster Economic Recovery”   ,(Jan. 2010)

Indiana – How NOT to do recovery

Indiana

Millions intended for natural disaster relief instead spent on technology and industrial parks. A second article on the same topic is here: Disaster Aid Spending Analyzed. July 23.

The focus of this article is on economic development projects that had little or nothing to do with the damage done by a disaster.  If someone from Indiana wants to provide additional details or another perspective, please contact me.

ADDENDUM: It appears that federal funds for economic development were spent without regard for the local flood exposure and risk. Since the community did not get a disaster declaration, it is not out of compliance with the mitigation requirements of a declaration.