Why Is It So Hard to Sustain Interest in Comprehensive EM?

Map of USA with Iowa highlighted

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After mounting an effective recovery effort for recent floods, the State of Iowa is ending its efforts. Rebuild Iowa Office to shut down. June 6.

The agency that coordinated the state’s recovery from the historic flood and tornado disasters of 2008 is going out of business, even though the debate about preventing future floods is far from over.

The Rebuild Iowa Office – which had about 21 employees at its peak – will close on June 23 in accordance with law requiring it to “sunset” after three years. However, state officials hope its work will be a blueprint for responding to future emergencies.

“I think the structure and the framework we put in place made a difference in the 2008 disaster recovery. There has been a lot of hard work that has resulted in best practices, benchmarks and models for the nation,” said Lt. Gen. Ron Dardis, who served as chairman of the Rebuild Iowa Advisory Commission and later as the agency’s executive director. He retired in January.

As reported by CNN today, Iowa is about to experience new flooding.  What does it take to get folks to think long-term and strategically about their vulnerabilities and risks?

Planning for Recovery Prior to the Disaster Event

Statue of John Harvard, founder of Harvard Uni...

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Some call it pre-event planning and others call it advance planning for recovery. Whichever term you use, the process is worth highlighting again.  Recently Eric Holdeman’s blog captured some advice from a seminar at Harvard on the topic of advance recovery planning.  Although that info is not yet available online, some of the recent work by Harvard University professors can be found below:

Herman B. “Dutch” Leonard and Arnold M. Howitt. 2010. Advance Recovery and the Development of Resilient Organisations and Societies. In Simon Woodward (Ed.), Integrative Risk Management: Advanced Disaster Recovery (pp. 45-58). Zurich: Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd.