Disaster Mitigation and Recovery: Preparing Communities Through Planning


Melissa L. Finucane, Senior Social and Behavioral Scientist

Disaster planning helps build strong and resilient communities that are better able to deal with extreme weather like hurricanes, heatwaves, snowstorms or droughts.

Addressing the impacts of multiple overlapping disasters has become increasingly important. These past 18 months have been very difficult, with the COVID 19 pandemic being a disaster that has affected every aspect of life. And meanwhile, we must continue to deal with earthquakes and hurricanes, oil spills and other disasters.

Disaster planning in this context must recognize how multiple social, economic, health and physical systems are interrelated.

We need to consider the needs of the most vulnerable. We need to ensure that our efforts to reduce risk are equitable. Equity in disaster planning means that people have access to the resources they need, regardless of sociodemographic characteristics.

Research has shown that people who are more vulnerable tend to be more impacted by disasters and have a harder path to recovery, so we need to think about how our disaster plans explicitly address these vulnerabilities.