Reflections on Hurricane Sandy by HUD Sec. Donovan

The WashPost blog featured an interview with outgoing HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.  See: Shaun Donovan on confronting hurricanes, homelessness and big banks.  Only one question dealt with post-disaster recovery, and it is quoted it here:

How did your work on the Hurricane Sandy task force inform the administration’s disaster relief policies?

It’s important to look back to Hurricane Katrina, and the fact that when we took office, even though it was three and a half years later, it was fresh in the nation’s mind. One of my first trips there was with (then-U.S. Homeland Security Secretary) Janet Napolitano, and many of the neighborhoods looked like the storm had happened the day before. The president asked me to do a review with Janet on national recovery, which led to the National Disaster Recovery Framework that we use today to handle long-term recovery from these major disasters.

I am not sure why but I I find it fascinating that in order to get some serious federal attention to recovery, the President had to tell the Sec. of DHS and the Sec. of HUD to deal with it.

What has baffled me for many years  is that FEMA had been in existence for about 35 years and not managed to come up with a recovery framework. The National Disaster Recovery Framework was issued in late 2012.

See comments from readers below…..

More National Planning Frameworks from FEMA

FEMA just issues some new National Planning Frameworks. But I find the release rather confusing in that it is hard to tell what is new and what is reworked.

Update: It has taken me a while to figure it out, but now I know that the National Mitigation Framework and the National Preparedness Framework are new.  The National Response Plan is revised and now showing as the second edition,; it is dated May 2013. I am not sure yet how much different it is from the first edition.


National Planning Frameworks: How We Work Together to Build, Sustain, and Deliver Capabilities to Ensure a Secure and Resilient Nation

Today, the Federal Government and its partners released three of the five National Planning Frameworks directed in Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness. These National Planning Frameworks document the roles and responsibilities of the whole community in all facets of national preparedness and illustrate how we work together to support one another before, during, and after an emergency. The benefit of this unified effort is a more informed, shared understanding of risks, needs, and capabilities across the whole community; and, in the end, a more secure and resilient nation.

There is one Framework for each of the five mission areas: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery. The National Disaster Recovery Framework was the first to be released (September 2011), and the National Protection Framework is currently under development to ensure it aligns with emerging national protection policy. The National Response Framework is based on the familiar 2008 version.

You can download the National Planning Frameworks and view the tutorial at

Long-Term Recovery – some baseline information

As the implementation planning for recovery begins, it is worth reviewing what the baseline is for national recovery guidance from FEMA.  See the recent GAO testimony/report, titled Disaster Recovery; Selected Themes for Effective Long-Term Recovery; June 2012. A copy is attached here:Testimony-Czerwinski.  It reviews the National Disaster Recovery Framework and the newly created position of Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator.

Also the National Preparedness Goal — npg — issued in Sept. 2011 by DHS, outlines the “core capabilities” needed for state and local governments to deal effectively with a catastrophic disaster event.  The extent to which this document has contributed to capabilities for recovery in the states and municipalities affected by H. Sandy remains to be determined.

[Special thanks to Bill Cumming for calling these documents to my attention.]

The pending recovery from H. Sandy will allow us to watch the implementation of the NDRF, the role of the FDRC, and the  new role created for HUD Secretary Donovan, who was named by the President as the overall manager of recovery for NY and NJ.  The interaction among those 3 positions/persons will be most interesting, in my view.


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Wondering about the final National Disaster Recovery Framework? Me too!

A graphic representation of the four phases in...

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Several of us have been wondering if DHS will ever issue the long-overdue final National Disaster Recovery Framework, as required by the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. A draft version was issued in February 2010, available on the DHS Website, but I have seen no mention of when the final version will be issued or what the it will contain.

Well, it seems the most information available publicly presently is in a presentation on the National Disaster Recovery Framework, given by Elizabeth Zimmerman of DHS at the International Recovery Forum, in Japan, January 12, 2011.  From the conference site, her 13 slides are available, but a few new concepts — such as the Whole of Community Approach to Catastrophic Planning — need further explanation, in my view.

I find it ironic, to say the least, that the international community has more information about the Framework than the domestic community does.

Senators Lieberman, Collins, and Landrieu on 5th Anniversary of Katrina


In their press release, the senators note progress, but hit on the unfinished National Disaster Recovery Framework.

Lieberman said, “FEMA has made tremendous progress since 2005 and is evolving into a competent, professional emergency management organization. I, along with Senators Collins and Landrieu, have pressed FEMA to continue moving forward to ensure that our nation is capable of helping survivors recover from disasters. FEMA must improve its preparedness to assist in future recoveries after a large-scale disaster.  For example, it has yet to complete the National Disaster Recovery Framework, which is essential to providing the kinds of support for recovery our citizens need and deserve. “

The simple fact is that the distress that continues to plague many displaced Gulf Coast families—from causes both natural and man-made–spotlights the imperative to have world-class recovery systems in place so that government, on all levels, as well as individual citizens, are ready to help their communities recover from catastrophic disaster. FEMA and DHS must continue to be leaders in this effort and build on the progress made since 2005.