Recovery

What is recovery?

Recovery is the immediate, short, and long-term actions taken in the aftermath of a disaster to assist in restoring the community. It is important to note that this is usually a gradual process. Safety and mental and physical well-being are key issues to consider during recovery.

Recovery Timeline

If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful. This section offers some general advice on steps to take after disaster strikes in order to begin getting your home, your community and your life back to normal.

Factors of a Successful Recovery

Every community defines successful recovery outcomes differently based on its circumstances, challenges, recovery vision, and priorities.  However, common themes  like effective coordination among community members (including individuals), proactive community engagement and public participation, flexibility, and a community planning process have shown to lead to more resilient rebuilding and recovery.

The Recovery Process:

Residents cleaning up after a tornado

Individuals and Families

Individuals and families make up the basic fabric of any community. They provide a personal perspective on community recovery needs both pre- and post-disaster that no other public-sector or private-sector organization can provide. They are the primary beneficiaries of any pre- or post-disaster recovery activity.

Individuals and Families: Pre-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of pre-disaster responsibilities and activities for individuals and families include:

  • Developing an individual or family plan for disaster recovery. It is important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family first, after disaster strikes.
  • Maintaining adequate insurance coverage. Having insurance to help cover damages will enable you to recover your losses faster. It will also lessen or eliminate your need to get loans or grants to pay for damages.
  • Participating in pre-disaster preparedness activities. If your community is engaged in planning for disaster preparedness (e.g., developing or updating a hazard mitigation plan), contribute your ideas to the process.

 

Individuals and Families: Post-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of post-disaster responsibilities and activities for individuals and families include:

  • Managing individual and family recovery: In the aftermath of a disaster, make sure you and your family are safe, and begin reaching out to resource providers as needed (e.g., local nonprofits, your insurance company, FEMA, and so forth).
  • Participating in post-disaster recovery planning: Post-disaster recovery planning is an inclusive process. That means you can contribute your thoughts and ideas about community recovery.
  • Participating on specific recovery projects: If you are interested in a particular recovery project, volunteer your time to support the effort.

 

The Private Sector

The private sector is a critical community stakeholder. The private sector is comprised of local businesses, utility companies, transportation providers, telecommunications providers, financial institutions, media, and others. Not only does your local economy depend on the private sector, the private sector also operates a lot of critical infrastructure. When the private sector is operational, the community recovers more quickly by maintaining stable jobs and a stable tax base. 

The Private Sector: Pre-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of pre-disaster responsibilities and activities for the private sector include:

  • Developing and testing business continuity and restoration plans: Similar to individuals and families, the private sector should also be prepared for disasters. The private sector provides services (e.g., utility services, employment) that can delay community recovery with prolonged disruption.
  • Building relationships with emergency managers and other recovery officials to ensure an active voice in the recovery process: The private sector, especially utility providers, plays a major role in supporting the restoration of critical infrastructure.
  • Having adequate insurance coverage: This may include not just hazard coverage but also business interruption and other coverage with appropriate specific endorsements, such as for utility service interruption or discretionary payroll expense.

 

The Private Sector: Post-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of post-disaster responsibilities and activities for the private sector include:

  • Helping their employees: First and foremost, businesses should make sure their employees are safe and provide them guidance on returning to work.
  • Providing resources: The private sector can provide volunteers, leaders, technical assistance, commodities, and facilities to support recovery.
  • Rebuilding safer and stronger: Disaster impacts may present opportunities to rebuild in a safer, more resilient way.

 

The Non-Profit Sector

The non-profit sector is a stakeholder in community recovery planning, case management services, volunteer coordination, behavioral health and psychological and emotional support, technical and financial support, housing repair and construction that meets accessibility/universal design standards, and project implementation.

The non-profit sector plays a vital role in the recovery of impacted communities. Nonprofits include voluntary organizations, faith-based and community organizations, charities, foundations and philanthropic groups, professional associations, and academic institutions. 

The Non-Profit Sector: Pre-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of pre-disaster responsibilities and activities for the non-profit sector include:

  • Building relationships with emergency managers and other recovery officials to ensure an active voice in the recovery process: The non-profit sector provides a wide array of services to the public. Their involvement in recovery starts with establishing relationships with recovery leaders.
  • Identifying resources to provide services: The non-profit sector can identify local organizations that are able to support community recovery equitably, and build relationships with them.
  • Helping to ensure accessible communications: The non-profit sector can help government officials ensure that pre-disaster planning efforts are communicated to all individuals and families in the community in an accessible manner (e.g., for those with sight or hearing impairments, persons not proficient in English, etc.).

 

The Non-Profit Sector: Post-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of post-disaster responsibilities and activities for the non-profit sector include:

  • Facilitating and encouraging the participation of leaders and representatives from historically underserved communities: The non-profit sector has outreach capability and can ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in the recovery process.
  • Facilitating stakeholder workshops: The non-profit sector can help community members learn about resources available to them after a disaster.
  • Serving as subject matter experts in their fields of expertise: The community depends on the non-profit sector to provide services, including education.

 

Local Government

The local government has the primary role of planning and managing all aspects of the community’s recovery. Individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofits look to local governments to communicate recovery needs to resource providers. Local governments also lead the community in preparing hazard mitigation and recovery plans, raising hazard awareness, and educating the public about concepts and practices for improving community resiliency against future disasters.  

Local Government: Pre-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of pre-disaster responsibilities and activities for the local government include:

  • Understanding and communicating key hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities that can cause challenges to recovery: Knowing risks enables the community to plan to mitigate those risks before a disaster strikes.
  • Identifying critical infrastructure and key services that should be restored immediately after a disaster: Local government officials, nonprofits, and private-sector businesses should work together to identify and plan for the quick restoration of critical community services.
  • Planning outreach to all residents, including individuals with disabilities, limited English proficiency, seniors, children, and members of underserved populations: It is important to understand the community makeup and community organizations that can support outreach to all individuals and families.

 

Local Government: Post-Disaster Responsibilities and Activities

Examples of post-disaster responsibilities and activities for the local government include:

  • Providing leadership in recovery preparedness: The local government leads the recovery effort.
  • Appointing a Local Disaster Recovery Manager (LDRM): The LDRM is the point person for organizing local recovery.
  • Reviewing pre-existing plans: Pre-existing plans (e.g., comprehensive plans, land use plans, capital improvements plans, etc.) can help guide recovery planning.
  • Coordinating with State and Federal organizations to facilitate additional recovery activities

 Additional Information

More information can be found at Ready.gov (the national preparedness page), or by clicking the links below:

Recovering from Disaster

Health and Safety Guidelines

Returning Home

Seeking Disaster Assistance

Coping with Disaster

Helping Others