Increasing Community Resilience in the Gulf States Region

hands in the air

Community resilience is not only about emergency response. Nor is it solely about reconstruction. These capabilities are certainly critical to communities when disaster strikes. But community resilience goes further.

Community resilience requires participation from the whole community to improve response and recovery, and to plan for disaster recovery over the long term. Community resilience is based on lessons from past disasters to strengthen future response and recovery efforts — lessons that help communities bounce back more quickly in the aftermath of adversity.

This is a lesson that the U.S. Gulf States have learned in the last decade, and their experiences are helping teach other communities across the nation how to become more resilient.

Listen to Podcasts on Community Resilience

Learning Lessons in (and from) the Gulf States

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf States and the recovery was underway, researchers examined the lessons learned and — as other disasters loomed — used their experiences in the Gulf to prepare and strengthen communities in the Gulf as well as elsewhere.

Why the Focus on Resilience?

RAND has helped many areas dealing with the after-effects of natural and man-made disasters, and one realization was that communities that were resilient were better able to recover. Below are some examples of research RAND conducted in areas where having a resilient community would have been helpful.

  • Moore, Okla. resident looking through remains of her house that was detroyed by the tornado

    Moore Must Be Ready for Psychological Aftermath

    May 31, 2013

    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.

  • a young boy and girl hold hands while walking to school

    In Connecticut, Recovery and Healing Will Take Time

    Dec 20, 2012

    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.

  • Volunteers assist with the clean up efforts in Sea Bright, NJ, after Hurricane Sandy

    'New Normal' Requires New Ways to Support Social and 'Human' Recovery

    Nov 26, 2012

    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.

  • hurricane

    Helping Displaced Students in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

    Oct 31, 2012

    If Hurricane Sandy causes extensive disruptions in public schools—particularly in hard-hit New York City—our research shows that choices made by parents and policymakers could significantly limit the negative short-term effects of changing schools under such difficult circumstances, writes John Pane.

  • Katrina evacuees in New Orleans

    High Rates of Household Breakups Occurred Following Hurricane Katrina

    May 23, 2011

    The composition of households in New Orleans made the city's families more vulnerable to breakup during the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina. Two-thirds of the city's households at that time saw at least one family member move away, an unusually high number even given the tremendous destruction of the hurricane.

  • Aftermath of earthquake in Haiti

    Rebuilding Haiti Requires New State-Building Strategy

    Aug 13, 2010

    Haiti's future prosperity and peace depend on its ability to build a more resilient state, one capable of providing public services like education and health care as well as responding effectively to natural disasters.

  • School bus stop sign

    Many Louisiana Students Displaced by Hurricanes May Suffer Academically

    Nov 29, 2006

    The vast majority of the 200,000 Louisiana students displaced from their public schools by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita missed weeks or more of school, and most did not return to their original schools by the end of the 2005-06 school year. As a result, many may experience long-term academic problems.

How Can Resilience Be Developed?

After realizing the need for increased community resilience, RAND researchers worked across disciplines to develop training programs for individuals, communities and organizations to learn more about what they can do to be prepared — before disaster strikes.

  • Oklahoma tornado cleanup

    Translating Policy Into Action to Build Community Resilience

    Sep 4, 2013

    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.

  • holding hands in a circle

    Building Resilient Communities: An Online Training

    Aug 13, 2013

    This easy-to-use, self-guided online training shows organizations and communities how to strengthen their resilience, helping them recover and learn from disaster—both natural and man-made.

  • resilience hands

    Resilience in Action

    Jul 25, 2013

    Resilient communities withstand and recover from disasters. They also learn from past disasters to strengthen future recovery efforts. The Resilience in Action website offers toolkits, training, multimedia, newsletters, and other resources to help communities build and strengthen their resilience.

  • houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

    Planning for Superstorms, Wildfires, and Deep Uncertainty

    Apr 18, 2013

    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.

  • disaster survivors show resilience

    Building Community Resilience to Disasters

    Feb 22, 2011

    Communities can build resilience to disasters through efforts such as joint planning of government and non-governmental organizations and the development of community networks.