Recovery planning is critical to coastal communities because it builds capacity specific to recovery, which requires more collaborative leadership than the top-down emergency response structure. Recovery planning also allows communities to pre-determine priorities for recovery, like which infrastructure to repair first or whether to incorporate resilience measures into rebuilding, which reduces the number of difficult decisions to be made in the aftermath of a disaster. Effective recovery planning can address some of the difficult challenges coastal communities face following a disaster, such as:
The cost of natural disasters in the United States has doubled in the last two decades. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50 billion in damage in 2012. Recovery plans support more effective use of post-disaster funding and help communities get back on their feet quickly – reducing the cost of an extended, expensive rebuilding process.
Vulnerable Coastal Economies
Coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to economic impacts caused by natural disasters. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina estimates a 20% decrease in hotel occupancy caused by a storm event could translate into an economic loss of over $7 million per day. A year after Super-storm Sandy, 39% of small businesses were operating at a loss and 86% of firms still needed recovery-related financing. Recovery plans build awareness of the resources coastal communities need to re-open for business.
A key challenge when recovering from a disaster is maintaining communication across the business, government, and NGO sectors. Building relationships prior to an event is the best way to ensure communication will continue after a disaster occurs. The Business Leadership Civic Center, an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce, suggests a regional approach to disaster recovery planning provides a better platform for communication and leveraging of resources to build resiliency.