photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA
Volunteers assist with the clean up efforts in Sea Bright, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy
As the East Coast continues to rebuild a month after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it's important to bear in mind that this latest confluence of storms is merely one in a potential string of disasters that the region and the nation may confront due to changes in climate and other threats. As New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo, recently wrote, "Extreme weather is the new normal."
This new normal calls for new strategies and approaches to helping individuals and communities rebuild after disasters. Fortunately, history holds lessons that can help us adapt and adjust to our new future.
Recent global disasters, from hurricanes, to tsunamis, to powerful earthquakes, vividly illustrate that recovery from disasters entails more than simply restoring physical infrastructure such as roads and buildings; it is also a long process of restoring the social infrastructure—the daily routines and networks that support the physical and mental health and well-being of the population.