Peripatetic Event

Defining Disaster Response, Recovery, and Resilience in The Face of Crises

In the face of crises, whether extreme weather events, seismic activity, or terrorist attacks, communities need to be set up effectively to minimise consequences. Three primary concepts need to be considered in terms of the various crisis management jobs that need to be filled – Disaster Response, Disaster Recovery, and Disaster Resilience.

In this edition of Disasters Dialogue, we’ll focus on the differences between these interconnected, yet distinct ideals, focusing on some notable examples of effective application.

Disaster Response

The most immediate of the three pillars in crisis management, a strong response is necessary to address and manage the urgent needs of those directly affected by emergencies. Effective crisis response teams focus on saving lives, reducing suffering, and protecting the environment (including property).

Typical Disaster Response Activities

  • Search and Rescue Missions
  • Emergency Medical Care
  • Distribution of Food and Water
  • Provision of Emergency Shelter
  • Restoration of Essential Services (Electricity, Communications, etc.)

Examples of Effective Disaster Response

Hurricane Katrina (2005): This storm ravaged Louisana and surrounding areas, killing nearly 2000 people, but it could have been much worse had the response not been so effective. Organisations like FEMA, the National Guard, and other groups enacted search and rescue, medical care operations, and more to direct victims and those in the Gulf Coast hit by the subsequent floods – for context The Coast Guard saved around 34,000 people in New Orleans alone.

Haiti Earthquake (2010): The Haiti Earthquake was one of the most destructive, deadly events in recorded history, killing around 300,000 people, and affecting millions more for years to come. Despite the devastating nature of the earthquake, it’s worth noting the international support efforts from groups like the United Nations, Red Cross, and Médecins Sans Frontières, along with World Vision, who played a part in supporting nearly 2 millionpeople in the initial 90 days following the disaster.

Disaster Recovery

Recovery from disasters is a longer-term process, focused on rebuilding spaces, restoring communities, and re-establishing infrastructure. Disaster recovery is galvanised by governments and international organisations, in an attempt to return impacted areas and people back to a state of normalcy, or even improved conditions.

Typical Disaster Recovery Activities

  • Repairing and Rebuilding Damaged or Destroyed Property
  • Providing Financial Assistance to Citizens and Businesses
  • Restoring Essential Services (Communications, Medical Facilities, etc.)
  • Supporting Emotional and Psychological Recovery
  • Re-establishing Infrastructure (Transport Links, Electricity)

Examples of Effective Disaster Recovery

Christchurch Earthquake (2011):The Earthquake in Christchurch was monumental, killing 185 citizens and reducing around 80% of the city centre to rubble. Over the last 13 years, New Zealand’s Government and former Mayor Lianne Dalziel led a recovery scheme, costing well over $40 billion. The recovery initiatives have restored the city into a bustling metropolitan hub, repairing much of the city and revitalising investor interest, even if there is still work to be done.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (2011): 18,426 people were reported dead after the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami, with 42,500 people leaving Northeast Japan forever. However, since the disaster, the government has spent over 32 trillion yen, or $295 billion, on the region’s recovery, including the widespread construction of roads, seawalls, and houses, along with removing 14 million tons of radioactive waste and 1.24 million tons of radioactive water.

Disaster Resilience

Disaster Resilience building is an ongoing effort that draws on individuals, communities, and government systems to ensure that disasters can be withstood and adapted to in the future. Building true, trustworthy resilience is employing proactive, preventative, and preparative measures to reduce vulnerability for good.

Typical Disaster Resilience Activities

  • Strengthening Infrastructure
  • Building Networks with Other Communities and Countries
  • Improving Early Warning Systems
  • Promotion of Sustainable Land Use & Environmental Management
  • Diversification of Economic Drivers

Examples of Effective Disaster Resilience

Netherlands' Flood Management: Despite being 50% under sea level and having a long history of flooding, The Netherlands Delta Programis an exemplary resilience initiative. the government established a massive system of dams, sluice gates, storm surge barriers, dikes, and many other protective measures, effectively protecting much of the national community. The country is also renowned for its other climate-related initiatives, showcasing a comprehensive approach to resilience.

Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Initiative: This initiative is focused on supporting 100 specially selected cities from across the world and helping them to build resilience against physical, social, and economic threats, including disasters. The process so far has been focused on assigning each selected state a Chief Resilience Officer, educating local authorities on resilience strategies, increasing access to service providers, and creating a global dedicated to mutual support.

It’s clear that Response, Recovery, and Resilience are essential pillars in the disaster management world and there are examples of efficacy. However, the work is far from done in terms of preparing the global community.

Further Discussions: Andrew Staniforth & Guests

At this year’s Disasters Expo Europe, Andrew Staniforth and an impressive panel of guests, including Monica Crisan , Meredydd Hughes CBE QPM MA , and Dr Holger Nitschwill be hosting a panel titled:

Comparative Analysis of Disaster Response, Recovery & Resilience - Lessons Learned.

The panel session will focus on the Response, Recovery, and Resilience strategies utilised in a range of disasters. With representatives from SAHER Europe, the Italian Red Cross, and support from the UN, it’s set to be an unmissable highlight of the event. Secure your ticket today to make sure you catch this essential conversation.

Find Disasters Expo Europe listed on PreventionWeb

{mentions - FEMA | Army National Guard | United Nations | International Committee of the Red Cross - ICRC | Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) | World Vision | SAHER (Europe) | Croce Rossa Italiana | CORE EU-funded Project }