Recovery in Emergency Response in Disaster Management

What is Recovery in Emergency Response?

Recovery is a complex and long-running process that will involve many more agencies and participants than the response phase. It will undoubtedly be more costly in terms of resources, and it will undoubtedly be subject to close scrutiny from the community, the media and politicians alike. Therefore, the process needs to be based on well thought out and tested structures and procedures to work in an efficient and orderly manner.

Recovery in Emergency Response

{tocify} $title={Table of Contents}

Recovery is defined as rebuilding, restoring and rehabilitating the community following an emergency. Still, it is more than simply replacing what has been destroyed and rehabilitation those affected. It is a complex social and developmental process rather than just a remedial process. There are four interlinked categories of the impact that individuals and communities will need to recover from Humanitarian (inc. Health); Economic; Infrastructure; and Environmental. How recovery processes are undertaken is critical to their success. Recovery is best achieved when the affected community can exercise a high degree of self-determination.


Local communities may also look upon an emergency as an opportunity to regenerate an area. This regeneration phase may overlap with the recovery phase, with regeneration being defined as follows:

Regeneration is about transformation and revitalisation - both visual and psychological. This transformation can be physical, social and economic, achieved through building new homes or commercial buildings, raising aspirations, improving skills and improving the environment whilst introducing new people and dynamism to an area.

The recovery phase should begin at the earliest opportunity following the onset of an emergency, running in tandem with the response to the emergency. It continues until the disruption has been rectified, demands on services have returned to normal levels, and the needs of those affected (directly and indirectly) have been met. While the response phase to an emergency can be relatively short, the recovery phase may endure for months, years or even decades


Purpose of Recovery in Emergency Response

The purpose of providing recovery support is to assist the affected community in managing its own recovery. It is recognised that where a community experiences a significant emergency, there is a need to supplement the personal, family and community structures which have been disrupted. Recovery should be made with 'the community, not to the community.

Principles of Recovery in Emergency Response

The principles of recovering from emergencies are:

a) Recovery is an enabling and supportive process that allows individuals, families, and communities to attain a proper level of functioning through information, specialist services, and resources.

b) Effective recovery requires establishing planning and management arrangements, which are accepted and understood by recovery agencies, the community and armed forces (if deployed).

c) Recovery management arrangements are most effective when they recognise the complex, dynamic and protracted nature of recovery processes and the changing needs of affected individuals, families and groups within the community over time.

d) The recovery management is best approached from a community development perspective. It is most effective when conducted at the local level with the active participation of the affected community and a firm reliance on local capacities and expertise.

e) Recovery is not just a matter for the statutory agencies - the private sector, the voluntary sector, and the wider community will play a crucial role.

f) Recovery management is most effective when agencies involved in human welfare have a significant role in all levels of decision-making which may influence the well being and recovery of the affected community.

g) Recovery is best achieved where the recovery process begins from the moment the emergency starts. It is recommended that the Recovery Co-ordinating Group (RCG) is set up on the first day of the crisis and run in parallel with the Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG).

h) Recovery planning and management arrangements are most effective. They are supported by training programmes and multi-agency exercises, ensuring that the agencies and groups involved in the recovery process are adequately prepared for their role.

i) Recovery is most effective where recovery management arrangements provide a comprehensive and integrated framework for managing all potential emergencies. Assistance measures are provided in a timely, fair and equitable manner and are sufficiently flexible in responding to a diversity of community needs.


Impacts of Emergencies – The Recovery Phase 

a) Emergencies affect communities in a wide variety of ways. To understand what recovery comprises, one first must map out who is involved and how the emergency has affected them.

b) The impact of emergencies goes well beyond those directly affected by a crisis (e.g. through injury, loss of property, evacuation). Troubles affect, for example, onlookers, family and friends of fatalities or survivors, response and recovery workers, the wider community, the economy and businesses, physical infrastructure, and the environment.

c) To understand how emergencies affect individuals and their communities – and thus prioritise and scope the recovery effort – it is essential to understand how crises impact people's environment and work.

d) Below is a framework for understanding these impacts and the steps that may need to be taken to mitigate them. There are four interlinked categories of the impact individuals and communities will need to recover from. The nature of the impacts – and whether and at what level action needs to be taken – will largely depend on the nature, scale and severity of the emergency itself.


Framework for Understanding the Impact of Emergencies

National Recovery Guidance

Generic Issues: Recovery structures and processes - Social media - Training and exercising - Data protection and sharing - Mutual Aid - Military Aid - Working with the press - The Role of Elected Members - VIP visits and involvement - Impacts on local authority performance targets - Inquiries - Investigations and prosecutions - Recovery evaluation and lessons identified processes - Impact assessments Reporting Voluntary sector

Humanitarian aspects: Needs of people - health - Displaced People - Foreign nationals - Community engagement Commemoration - Community cohesion - Needs of people - non-health Financial support for individuals - Investigation and prosecutions - Mass fatalities

Environmental Issues: Environmental pollution and decontamination - Dealing with waste - Animal health and welfare

Economic Issues: Economic and business recovery - Financial impact on local authorities Infrastructure: Issues Access to and security of sites - Utility Repairs to domestic properties - Historic environment - Site clearance - Dealing with insurance issues - Damaged school buildings Transport.


Disaster Recovery Functions

The recovery phase's disaster assessment function should be integrated with the emergency response phase's emergency assessment function in identifying the physical impacts of the disaster. Short term recovery focuses on the immediate tasks of securing the impact area, housing victims and establishing conditions under which households and businesses can begin the process of recovery. Long term reconstruction actually implements the reconstruction of the disaster impact area and manages the disaster's psychological, demographic, economic, and political impacts. Finally, recovery management monitors the performance of the disaster assessment, short term recovery, and long term reconstruction functions. It also ensures they are coordinated and provides the resources needed to accomplish them. (Lindell 2006)

Disaster Assessment Function

a) Rapid assessment 

b) Victims' needs assessments 

c) Preliminary damage assessment 

d) "Lessons learned." 

e) Site assessment

Recovery Management

a) Agency notification and mobilisation

b) Public information 

c) Mobilisation of recovery facilities and equipment 

d) Recovery of legal authority and financing

e) Internal direction and control 

f) Administrative and logistical support 

g) External coordination 

h) Documentation


Short-Term Recovery

Short-term recovery is immediate and overlaps with a response. It includes providing essential public health and safety services, restoring interrupted utility and other essential services, reestablishing transportation routes, and providing food and shelter for those displaced by the incident. Although called "short term," some of these activities may last for weeks. 

Priorities of Short Term Recovery

Damage Assessment; 

Debris Management; 

Human Services; 

Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government 

Utility Restoration; 

Temporary Housing; 

Early Economic Recovery; 

Public Information.

Impact area security 

Emergency demolition 

Temporary shelter/housing 

Repair permitting 

Infrastructure restoration 

Donations management 

Disaster assistance

Characteristics of Short Term Recovery 

a) Ad-hoc recovery 

b) Issuing building permits without adequate review of reconstruction implications 

c) Limited public participation 

d) Rebuilding to pre-disaster conditions 

e) Over-reliance on state and federal recovery funding

f) Reduced economic viability 

g) Increased hazard vulnerability 

h) State or federal paternalism 

i) Out-migration of residents 

j) Declining tax base 

k) Declining sense of place

Outcomes of Short Term Recovery 

Reduced economic viability 

Increased hazard vulnerability

State or federal paternalism 

Outmigration of residents 

Declining tax base 

Declining sense of place


Long-Term Recovery

Long-term recovery, outside the framework's scope, may involve some of the same actions but may continue for several months or years, depending on the severity and extent of the damage sustained. For example, long-term recovery may include the complete redevelopment of damaged areas. (DHS 2008, 45)

Priorities of Long Term Recovery

Hazard source control and area protection 

Infrastructure resilience 

Land use practices 

Historic preservation 

Building construction practices 

Environmental recovery 

Links to Other County Plans

Community Redevelopment

Economic Restoration

Public health/mental health recovery 

Disaster memorialisation 

Economic development


Characteristics of Long Term Recovery 

a) Developing a recovery plan 

b) Establishing a temporary building moratorium 

c) Conducting an in-depth damage assessment 

d) Integrating hazard mitigation techniques into reconstruction 

e) Identifying local resources

f) Involving the public 

g) Identifying sustainable recovery objectives 

h) Linking recovery objectives with existing community goals

Outcomes of Long Term Recovery 

Greater economic viability 

Reduced hazard vulnerability 

Greater environmental well being 

Enhanced public health 

Enhanced community self


Increased tax base 

Enhanced sense of place

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post