After Superstorm Sandy, residents of Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood cleaned up debris, pumped out basements, and teamed up with researchers to find out what was in the floodwater. They established safety protocols to help local businesses prevent their chemicals from escaping and wrote a guide to help other communities.
For Gulf Coast residents, dealing with the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is challenging enough. With the Taylor Energy spill, they may face an even more daunting recovery, one that could take decades. Acknowledging the extent and complexity of recovery is the first step toward supporting coastal communities to build their resilience in the face of overlapping disasters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's strategic plan shows several shifts in U.S. disaster relief policy. Redirecting longer-term recovery operations to state and local authorities would allow FEMA to concentrate its assets on the catastrophic disasters it is uniquely designed to handle.
A small team of RAND researchers went to Puerto Rico two weeks after the island was struck by Hurricane Maria. They are compiling their observations into a series of studies for the Army, with recommendations to smooth its response to future disasters.
After Hurricane Harvey, challenges to the health of affected communities and the health care systems that serve them are expected to grow. Among the problems are closures of hospitals, pharmacies, and dialysis centers. Lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy could help relief efforts.
Given the persistent risk of terrorist attacks, it is critical to learn from past incidents to prepare for future ones. Medical and nonmedical first responders need more training in basic lifesaving skills. Open communication lines such as a dedicated radio frequency could help responders better coordinate. Disaster drills are also essential.
When Hurricane Matthew swept across Haiti, it left a resurgence of cholera in its wake. Tackling cholera head-on should be on the short list of health priorities for disaster relief in the island nation.
For Flint to recover from this latest disaster, it will be critical for the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to invest in and implement strategies to build on existing community resilience and strengthen Flint's ability to bounce back.
Natural and man-made mass-casualty incidents are a growing threat. Evaluating successes and shortcomings after each crisis can contribute to the design and implementation of robust and resilient response systems and ensure the best possible outcomes for individuals and impacted communities.
This weekend marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. As the region struggled to cope and rebuild after the storm, RAND experts worked on solutions to the region's long-term challenges.
There are key takeaways from the Ebola outbreak, Syria's chemical weapons, and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The U.S. and its international partners should view these events as learning opportunities that could help improve preparedness and response capabilities before the next crisis strikes.
Leadership, coordination, communication, and involvement of local stakeholders are critical in order to mount an informed response to natural disasters. Improved disaster management in Nepal could help limit the suffering of impacted communities and help secure a more successful recovery in the long run.
The U.S. provided supplies after the earthquake in Nepal, but they piled up at points of delivery because Nepalese customs authorities insisted that standard inspections be followed, even in an emergency situation. These kinds of bureaucratic challenges can be more easily overcome if they are identified and addressed before crises arise.
A new research group, the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities, will assess and address the public health, social, and economic impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico region.
When tragedy strikes, Kenneth Feinberg is often the person companies and governments turn to for help to determine appropriate monetary compensation. At RAND's Politics Aside event last week, he shared some of his thoughts on what goes into making those decisions, and why it's so important to meet with victims.
In an era of fiscal austerity, the need for measurement and assessment becomes manifold. Tied to good government goals and responsible stewardship of public funds, measurements are also necessary to educate the public about what it should—and should not—reasonably expect when disaster strikes.
To inform the debate on whether the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) should be continued or allowed to expire, RAND prepared policy briefs on three topics of central concern to policymakers: national security perspectives, the impact on federal spending, and the impact on workers' compensation markets.
With the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act set to expire this year, Congress is currently revisiting a crucial question: What is the appropriate government role in terrorism insurance markets? As the debate unfolds on Capitol Hill, policymakers should consider three key research findings.
The recovery from Sandy shows once again that how well communities bounce back from disasters depends not just on how they react after a crisis, but on how resilient they have made themselves beforehand. Building community resilience should be part and parcel of disaster preparedness.
In the wake of Haiyan there is no substitute for the capabilities of the U.S. military. At the level of national interest, however, does the case for tasking the U.S. military to international natural disasters hold up — particularly in a time when the Pentagon has seen its budget slashed?
Prior responses to other recent disasters offer important lessons. Improved preparedness and efficient coordination mechanisms can help ensure that, when time is of the essence, the United States provides the most effective response.
To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes progress in the current constrained budget environment, its new secretary must put in place a strategic perspective to guide priorities for how to address the country's most pressing problems in disaster management, immigration reform, cybersecurity, violent extremism, and nuclear terrorism.
The philosophy and motivation surrounding community resilience has strongly resonated with community leaders but there remains a divide between how experts articulate resilience policy and how that policy translates to on-the-ground implementation. Building Community Resilience: An Online Training addresses that tension.
Ensuring the availability of needed mental health resources was critical in the immediate aftermath and recovery phase of the 2011 Joplin, Missouri tornado. Authorities in Oklahoma must ensure that such services are in place early so that Moore's residents can begin the long journey to recovery.
The toll of the tornado on school students in Moore, Oklahoma, cannot be overstated. To assist with recovery, RAND's CBITS program offers resources on psychological first aid for schools, as well as additional materials for educators and parents.
Three mass-casualty events occurring in three very different settings show that disaster preparedness should not be limited to large cities or “target” areas in the United States. One trait that is common to all such events is the need for coordinated, responsive trauma care for victims.
Boston's health care providers reacted the way they did because they knew what they were supposed to do. Those who did not were smart enough to follow the lead of those who did. That's how a “ritualized” disaster plan works.
The path to climate change preparedness should start at the intersection of resilience and robustness — that is, building resilient communities with the individuals and organizations within those communities making robust decisions, ones designed to work well over a wide range of ever-changing conditions.
Art Kellermann reviews what is known from broad outlines of the Newtown attack and past research on gun violence to offer some preliminary thoughts to the Obama Administration's task force and the public.
With an event like this, With an event like this, 'recovery' doesn't mean a return to normal, because lives have been permanently altered. Recovery can only mean finding a new normal, a new path forward. And schools, those places of safety and healthy development, can help with that process, by providing a structure and community to support healing, writes Lisa Jaycox.
Recent global disasters vividly illustrate that recovery 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, write Anita Chandra and Joie Acosta.
The problem is that on any given day, disaster preparedness takes a back seat to ongoing operations. The tyranny of the urgent prevents hospital administrators from making investments in preparedness, writes Art Kellermann.
Just as public agencies across the country conducted terrorism risk assessments in the wake of 9/11, a comprehensive infrastructure assessment may be in order to understand natural hazard risks and the potential exacerbating effects of climate change, write Gary Cecchine, David Groves, and Jordan Fischbach.
Across the country, electronic medical records, designed first and foremost to make health care delivery safer and more efficient, are proving valuable when disaster strikes, write Mahshid Abir and Art Kellermann.
Fortunately for the nation's capitol, Hurricane Irene and the East Coast earthquake proved to be relatively minor events, as far as disasters go. But before everyone breathes a sigh of relief, it would be wise to reflect on how people responded to what were essentially dress rehearsals for much bigger events, write Lynn E. Davis and Arthur L. Kellermann.
The U.S. response to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami showcased its lasting commitment to Japan, as well as the unique logistical and material capabilities that the U.S. military forces stationed in the Pacific can provide, write Eric Heginbotham, Ely Ratner, and Richard J. Samuels.
If the U.S. does not improve its ability to track federal spending and develop reliable measures of effectiveness, precious federal disaster aid will continue to be at risk of being squandered, writes Agnes Gereben Schaefer.
Previous efforts by the international community to stabilize Haiti have met with little or only short-term success. This time, following the earthquake, the U.S. response could actually leverage the response and recovery opportunities into a broader international plan, write Agnes Gereben Schaefer and Anita Chandra.
The federal government has spent about $140 billion responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Gulf Coast now needs more money for hurricane and flood protection and for coastal restoration. But we still haven't properly evaluated whether our money was spent wisely.
In his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama pledged to rebuild the Gulf Coast — one of the country's most wounded, yet economically strategic, regions.To keep this laudable promise, he will need to make a sustained commitment not only to a national disaster recovery plan, but also a comprehensive economic development strategy for the Gulf Coast, writes Melissa Flournoy.