Disaster Recovery Operations

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Recovery in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters is directly related to the availability of local resources and the infrastructure and operational ability to deliver assistance from outside the affected region. RAND researchers have helped governments, militaries, and private organizations organize recovery operations during disasters, learn from past experience, and prepare for future disasters.

  • Aerial view of a damaged home in the mountainous area of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, October 9, 2017, photo by Andrea Booher/FEMA

    Q&A

    Disaster Recovery in Puerto Rico: Q&A with Marielena Lara

    Apr 26, 2021

    When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, it peeled roofs from houses, turned roads into rivers, and left millions of people without electricity or safe drinking water. Marielena Lara, a senior physician policy researcher at RAND, was grateful to be part of the recovery planning.

  • Crane trucks in the construction of a bridge, photo by Juan Enrique del Barrio/Adobe Stock

    Commentary

    New Thinking to Translate Infrastructure Dollars into Resilience

    Jun 2, 2021

    Infrastructure investments the United States makes today to recover from the pandemic can help boost resilience for the future. We will need to think beyond what we've done in the past to ensure that these investments can continue to protect the nation from shifting threats in the future.

Explore Disaster Recovery Operations

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    Community Resilience

    In this podcast, Anita Chandra describes simple steps that communities and organizations can take to help strengthen themselves against all kinds of disasters.

    Jan 23, 2014

  • Volunteers from the North Carolina Southern Baptists help clean out some apartments that were flooded during Hurricane Sandy

    Commentary

    One Year Later: Hurricane Sandy's Lessons in Resilience and Recovery

    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.

    Nov 15, 2013

  • U.S. Marines help displaced Philippine nationals from the back of a KC-130J Super Hercules at Vilamor Air Base, Manila, Republic of the Philippines

    Commentary

    How Philippines Typhoon Aid Helps USA

    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?

    Nov 12, 2013

  • A U.S. Marine and a Philippine airman assist an injured Filipino woman off a KC-130J Super Hercules at Vilamore Air Base, Manila, Republic of the Philippines

    Commentary

    Responding in Typhoon Haiyan's Wake

    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.

    Nov 12, 2013

  • commander of JTF-Haiti asks a few Haitians about the living conditions at the internally displaced persons camp

    Report

    The U.S. Military Response to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake

    Luck, serendipity, and longtime relationships fostered success in Haiti relief efforts, though actual performance is impossible to measure because metrics and plans were not in place before the earthquake hit. U.S. Department of Defense policy on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief needs to be updated.

    Oct 29, 2013

  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Jeh Johnson during an announcement for Johnson to be his nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security

    Commentary

    Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for New Homeland Security Secretary

    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.

    Oct 24, 2013

  • Oklahoma tornado cleanup

    Commentary

    Translating Policy Into Action to Build Community Resilience

    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.

    Sep 4, 2013

  • Emergency supplies and checklist

    Journal Article

    Household Preparedness Is Not Enough: Assessing Community Readiness for Disasters

    Measuring community preparedness and resilience is a challenge. A study of measures of partnership, self-sufficiency, and social connectedness, as well as gaps and opportunities in the measurement of community preparedness and resilience, found major limitations in existing data.

    Sep 1, 2013

  • holding hands in a circle

    Tool

    Building Resilient Communities: An Online Training

    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.

    Aug 13, 2013

  • Report

    Lessons from Department of Defense Disaster Relief Efforts in the Asia-Pacific Region

    The Asia-Pacific region bears the brunt of the majority of the world's natural disasters and is home to key U.S. allies. In an effort to improve the effectiveness of such operations, this report analyzes recent HA/DR operations in Burma, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Japan, and identifies lessons that can be applied in the future.

    Jul 31, 2013

  • A destroyed home in Moore, OK, where an F5 tornado struck on May 20, 2013

    News Release

    RAND Launches Center to Study Ways to Manage Catastrophic Risk and Compensate Victims

    The RAND Corporation has created a new research center that will analyze different approaches to compensating individuals, businesses, and others following catastrophes ranging from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.

    Jun 24, 2013

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

    Commentary

    Moore Must Be Ready for Psychological Aftermath

    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.

    May 31, 2013

  • Tornado damaged classroom in the Tower Elementary School in Moore, OK

    Blog

    Resources for Schools and Parents Following the Deadly Oklahoma Tornado

    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.

    May 29, 2013

  • Moore,Oklahoma,Oklahoma tornado,U.S. Air Force,assistance

    Commentary

    From Boston to Oklahoma—Lessons for the Regional Trauma Response System

    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.

    May 23, 2013

  • Governor Patrick visits the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after the Boston Marathon bombings

    Commentary

    Lessons from Boston

    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.

    Apr 25, 2013

  • houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

    Commentary

    Planning for Superstorms, Wildfires, and Deep Uncertainty

    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.

    Apr 18, 2013

  • Road with hurricane debris

    Journal Article

    Harnessing a Community for Sustainable Disaster Response and Recovery

    This analysis used peer-reviewed literature, relevant policy, and federal guidance to characterize the capabilities of nongovernmental organizations, factors that determine their involvement, and key services they provide during disaster response and recovery.

    Jan 1, 2013

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    Journal Article

    Nongovernmental Resources to Support Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

    The development of an assets framework which identifies relevant nongovernmental resources for disaster preparedness and response and assesses their availability at state and local levels found that the capacity of each sector to capture data needs strengthening.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Survivors carrying their belongings walk past destroyed houses after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines

    Journal Article

    East Asian Military Involvement in International Disaster Relief Operations

    The participation of East Asian militaries in international disaster relief is a relatively new phenomenon with many implications. These militaries are growing their proficiency in disaster relief operations by engaging in three observed types of aid: delivery, provision, and distribution.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • Gun violence protesters march on NRA lobbying offices

    Commentary

    Responding to Newtown

    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.

    Dec 26, 2012