EM Forum Presentation — December 12, 2012

Pre-Disaster Recovery Planning
Avoiding the Rush to Normalcy

Carolyn J. Harshman, MPA, CEM®
Emergency Planning Consultants

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/recovery/RecoveryPlanning.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm121212.wmv or in MP4format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm121212.mp4
An audio podcast is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm121212.mp3

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator.  We are very glad you could be with us. We do want you to take part in this discussion.

Today’s topic is about planning for recovery and reconstruction before a catastrophic disaster happens in your community.  There can be some very tough issues to face during this process, and it becomes even harder when your residents are in a hurry to get back to “normal” after a disaster has occurred.  These are now hot topics in places like the New Jersey Shore and other areas hit by Sandy who will have their work cut out for them indeed.  

Today’s recording and a copy of the slides will be available from our site later this afternoon.  A transcript will be available early next week.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s speaker:  Carolyn Harshman has over 30 years experience in land use planning and emergency management.  She has had her own consulting business, Emergency Planning Consultants, since 1984 delivering a wide variety of plans, exercises and training.

Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical details and links to related resources that will be mentioned during the presentation today, and also an excellent article published yesterday in the Huffington Post.  

Welcome Carolyn, and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us again today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Carolyn Harshman:  It is certainly my distinct pleasure to be joining all of you today.  I gave this presentation at the International Association of Emergency Managers back in October. It really is a fascinating topic to me and obviously, to the sixty-two of you who have signed on to the webinar, it must be fascinating to you, too.

Just for the sake of introduction—a couple of additional points to build on what Amy was saying—my background, I have a split career.  My first career was in city planning where I was responsible for developing community plans, changing zoning ordinances and learning all the development regulations that go into establishing the future for a city or county, as it is true, too.

In the middle of that career I had an opportunity to do disaster planning.  Although it turned out there weren’t very many similarities I could help but bring in the city planning experience I had.  It troubles me sometimes to see how we have almost deliberate disasters happening that were really preventable and mostly because our development ordinances are encouraging us to live in the wrong places.

That is the background and premise and why I have this perspective.  Let me take you through some of the slides.

[Slide 2]

First of all the question of—when does the rush to normalcy begin?  We are familiar with the four phases of emergency management.  They are on the screen here.

[Slide 3]

The two phases that really cause the highest level of uncertainty and urgency, or I guess you could call it panic—first of all is the response phase because we are focused on human safety and being able to keep people safe, keep them out of harm’s way, incident stabilization and other stuff like that.

[Slide 4]

The second phase that causes a great deal of panic is the recovery phase itself.  As you can see in the pictures in the slide in the upper left hand corner this man in the mobile home park, whether his house is burning right now or not, believe me he is very anxious to be able to get back in and have that feeling of comfort and normalcy that we all strive for and very much enjoy.

The picture of the troubled decision maker in the middle of the slide really to me exemplifies the government’s sense of uncertainly about what to do, where to go, how to organize the community and be able to get back on its feet.  The organization wants to have that feeling of comfort and that sense of normalcy as well.

[Slide 5]

In looking at what I call “normalcy”—and I borrowed this source from The Fundamentals of Emergency Management which is a textbook on this topic—these boxes although it is kind of a crude drawing it really does represent a 30,000 foot perspective of what a community looks like.

You can see the two big boxes across the top of infrastructure and government are intricately connected to the households we live in.  It doesn’t matter what of house, home, structure or whatever it is we live in but we do hang out someplace at night and it brings us not only comfort but protection and it connects us up to the infrastructure.  

We support ourselves with our businesses and work environment.  We get other forms of support like goods and services, we get affection, and emotional support from our peers.  On the other side of the scale, the business side, we get goods and services—we have exchanged things using money.

We sell to people.  There are competitors that come in and then there are suppliers that support all the households and businesses.  In a real simple kind of way I think this is an effective look at what normalcy is.  Now let me walk you through how “not normal” looks.

[Slide 6]

Here is a different perspective of infrastructure.  This picture is taken from Katrina.  Obviously the bridge is not designed to do this.  It was level before and yet because of the tidal surges and winds this is the way the infrastructure fell apart.  It is completely un-useful now.

[Slide 7]

Government—another example is the picture on the left—it is a picture of a very common town hall in a small community.  The picture on the right is a great example of what that exact building looks like after it is impacted by a hurricane.

[Slide 8]

In terms of peers the whole point of this picture is that these people could have easily been walking along in this town having a conversation, hanging out at Starbuck’s or whatever but instead because of a disaster this is what the nature of their relationship is today.

[Slide 9]

This picture in terms of households—you can see this beautiful mansion before and the contrast with what today’s representation looks like.

[Slide 10]

In terms of businesses obviously we rely on business not only as our own sources of employment but we alsoshop there, do all sorts of things, and we eat there.  We rely on businesses.  It is the backbone of our economic existence.  When you look at an example like this of the before and after, obviously this store even if it were open, it would be really difficult for people to come and go and therefore it is not going to provide much use to any of us.

[Slide 11]

Therefore what are the challenges of recovery planning and why am I recommending that you do pre-disaster recovery planning?

[Slide 12]

Just in looking at those pictures you can see that the emotional rush to normalcy is because people really do want to get back to their jobs and families.  They want to be able to use the things they own.  They want to be able to enjoy the pictures of their families or whatever normalcy is for them.  

So the challenge because of all that emotional and passionate pushing from businesses and residential owners alike—many times the decision makers are put in a very uncomfortable position.  This is meant to be a mayor standing on the front steps of city hall.  Within seconds of a major disaster the mayor stands out in front of everyone and says, “You have my word you’ll be back in your homes in no time.”

That partly comes from the fact that the mayor too has been impacted and wants to have that sense of normalcy again.  Better yet as the leader of an organization he or she realizes that is what everyone wants.  That is where the rush comes from.

Instead of doing it right we go into this “ready fire aim” mode where we get the order screwed up and the outcome is equally bad off.  

[Slide 13]

A few misconceptions about recovery because I think this is important to talk about too—the first misconception is that the entire recovery effort can be improvised after the emergency response is complete.  In other words, “we are just going to wing it and see what we have left and we’ll go from there”.  

The truth that is identified here is that in effective recovery it really does require an extensive amount of data and collection.  If you have a better idea ahead of time as you would if you did a pre-disaster recovery plan you would have a very good idea of property values, location of goods and services, up to date demographic records and lots of things you would need to be able to get funding to support your recovery effort.  That is part of why you don’t want to wait until it happens.

[Slide 14]

The second misconception is that the objective of disaster recovery should be to restore the community back to the condition that existed before the disaster.  I think it is time for us to change that definition because if we do restore our community back to what it was it will be just as vulnerable to disaster again as it was before this disaster.

We really have to put it back different.  If you think for a minute about the Humpty Dumpty rhyme and we wanted to put him back together again but maybe we would have been better off with a slightly different design.  I say that with a smile.

[Slide 15]

Misconception number three is a real popular one—lightning never strikes twice.  Let’s find out about what Hurricane Camille had to say about that and there are lots of examples from Hurricane Katrina.

[Slide 16]

With Hurricane Camille you may have seen some of these pictures before. For those who haven’t let me tell this bit of a story.  Hurricane Camille came along in 1969 and the apartment building was built in Pass Christian, Mississippi.  There was a big hurricane party when they knew there was a hurricane coming and the majority of the people who were in the building who stayed for the hurricane parties were washed away.  

Their bodies were found later and most of the building was completely gone.  The only thing that remains as you can see here in the picture is the trees.  Isn’t it interesting that we build things that don’t survive at all and nature builds something that survives even a hurricane?  

[Slide 17]

That same exact property has been rebuilt as a small shopping center in advance of Hurricane Katrina and if you take a look at where the trees were before and where the trees are now, nature survived once again for the most part.  The shopping center that was built on exactly the same footprint is still exactly 100% wiped out.

[Slide 18]

You have to ask yourself—what is the point of recovery planning?  First of all I would like to offer this definition of recovery.  It is certainly not my own definition but one I have seen commonly in many different textbooks and articles that disaster recovery is the combination of restoring, reshaping and rebuilding our physical, social, economic and natural environments.   I want to go back for just a minute to my earlier days as a city planner and if I look at this list of physical, social, economic and natural environments—that is exactly what a general plan is.

If you don’t think about it being taken apart in a disaster process the physical, social, economic and natural environments are exactly the components that make up a general or comprehensive plan that provides a guideline on how things will be built, where they will be built, the materials that will be used.  There are even use requirements in terms of the zoning ordinance.

You can have use restrictions like you can’t have noise after a certain time of day or the building has to be painted a certain color or all sorts of things like that.  You have a lot of controls that are laid out in your general plan.  If the general or comprehensive plan is deliberately putting development in harm’s then way eventually you will get what you are asking for.

[Slide 19]

Another thing to think about—this is a recovery model timeline.  This is not a model like a hopeful thing but it is a typical representation of what the recovery steps look like.  You can see those on the left.  The tasks include assessing the damage scenario, in other words what kind of impact we have had.

The emergency shelter process—notice the horizontal axis is indicated in terms of days, weeks, months and years so don’t look at this and think that it only takes a few days or weeks.  This is over an extended period of time. We know from recent experiences that these guidelines really haven’t changed a lot in twenty or thirty years.

The amount of time that you have closures of businesses and infrastructure is still considerable.  If anything the timeline has increased because we are serving so many more people than we were many years ago.  The damage assessment process itself lasts even longer now than it did before because there is a lot more to look at.

When we have impacts from a major disaster we have a lot more buildings in harm’s way and more people are affected. If there are geologic issues as there would be in an earthquake related emergency you can see that can’t even start until some of the debris has been cleared and you can go through the evaluative process.

Demolition takes many months depending on the size of the community and the density involved.  We have examples in lots of recent emergencies when you can have individual homes turned to rubble or flattened by some kind of emergency.  It is contrasted with the towers in the 9/11 situation where everything came down to the ground and so much of it was pulverized and disappeared.

Demolition is all over the scale.  It is very difficult to try to predict what kind of debris you’ll be left with and what you’ll have to clean up.  Establishment of temporary business sites—if you can’t go back and fix up your own business there have been many cases where communities like after Loma Prieta the city of Santa Cruz set up temporary tents and such to be able to allow businesses to keep the commerce of the community going forward.

Temporary housing—you can probably remember the Katrina cottages.  The permit processing is that rebuilding process begins to take hold.  Notice that in the chart we are looking at it is starting within the first couple of weeks after an emergency.  

That is the point right there that is the essence of the problem—our rush to normalcy before we think, “Do I really want to put it back in exactly the same place with exactly the same use using the building materials without mitigating against, moving in some regard, rebuilding or restructuring or retrofitting in some regard to be able to compensate for the fact that this disaster could very well happen again?”

The reconstruction planning and the actual construction process itself—there is a lot there.  If you really look at that table and think, “How would this play out in my own community?”  I think you can begin to understand what the recovery process is, how painful it is, and how important it is that we do it right.

[Slide 20]

I have already talked about some of these points in terms of why pre-disaster recovery planning is important but I want to give credit to Dennis Mileti who is the author of Disasters by Design.  It is an absolutely fabulous book.  It emphasizes a lot of the points I am agreeing with here today.  I want to pay a tribute to Dennis by honoring his words and putting them here before you.

You can read these points on your own and I’ll go on to the next slide because there are other points I want to emphasize even more.

[Slide 21]

The process of pre-disaster recovery planning avoids the tempting opportunity to make the same mistake twice.  It also achieves greater public safety and community involvement because you are doing this planning ahead of time just like a good mitigation plan.  You are getting community involvement and especially since this is so much at the core of development planning you have lots of people interested in where and how things are built.

The city and county processes that go on right now in your own communities are robust.  They are very diverse.  They involve a cross section of owners and renters and businesses and residential and industrial and all the other pieces that make up the development puzzle.  

Most importantly, as Dennis points out, it can help communities think on their feet because you have already come up with guidelines.  You are basically going to be looking at an ordinance that is going to be a guideline that says, “Let’s think now about providing housing.  What are the things we want to think about regarding housing in this pre-disaster recovery process?”

In writing it is going to give you some pointers that are going to say, “Let’s think about have there been significant increases in density since this building was built?  Do we maybe need to change the density?  Should it go up or should it go down?  Should the siting be different for the building because of what we know now about the disasters that have affected us?”  That is just a small example.

[Slide 22]

What I want to do now for the next few minutes is talk about a pre-disaster recovery plan I assisted the city of Chula Vista with.  Chula Vista happens to be my hometown.  I live in San Diego and my business in San Diego but I actually grew up in Chula Vista and went to Chula Vista High School.

The city of Chula Vista hired me to assist them with developing a pre-disaster recovery plan.  Just so you understand the planning scenario here it is about a fifty square mile area.  The population is about 200,000.  The hazards of Southern California—of course it is vulnerable to earthquakes.  Flooding to a certain extent—not lots of river flooding because we have a lot of dams to protect us from that but it is certainly vulnerable to wildfire.

If you were to increase this map out and look farther to the east you would see it is hugging against the hills.  Like a lot of communities we suffer from wild land urban interface.  The racial makeup is about fifty-fifty white and Hispanic.  

[Slide 23]

The major policies—and think of these as chapters of the pre-disaster recovery plan—the major chapters we established within that plan, the first one is rehabilitation.  The questions that were raised in that section really had to do with—do we fix something or do we tear it down and build something new to a different standard or different use?

In other words, don’t just automatically put something back exactly the same and also don’t just fix it without really thinking about whether or not you should be making significant changes and what that use is.

[Slide 24]

The second of the policies is the public sector services and really taking the opportunity to rethink whether or not your need—as you can in the pictures—may be more or less instead of public community services like open areas and things like that.  Generally we would vote for more uses like that and given the opportunity with a clean slate of a jurisdiction that has had a significant impact you do have an opportunity to do things very differently.

The pictures of the schools are there deliberately.  If you’ve had a massive shift—and I know we have seen that in San Diego over the last few years—there aren’t as many K-12 kids here now.  We have several elementary schools that sit vacant and yet there is a big reservation to sell off that property.

If your community is going through a huge cycle like that or is changing significantly and now you have a huge increase in industry this is a chance to re-look at your community. Public sector is another one of those important areas.

[Slide 25]

The next of the policies is economic recovery.  These are all pictures taken from communities that have been radically impacted by disaster in the past and have come back.  As we all know many small businesses never come back after disasters.  These are some of the successful stories.

I come back to the development standards and say that if you look at the way the area is zoned, is that the way you want it now?  Are there some businesses uses that are now considered to be unacceptable in the community?  Now that you have an opportunity to re-designate you should use those powers if that is something the community overall has been wanting to do.

[Slide 26]

In terms of the land use and reuse, these pictures are from Greensburg, Kansas before and after the tornado in 2007.  It is a pretty radical example in the fact that you can see the street patterns in the before and after.  The streets were disheveled but you can still see the patterns.  You can still see exactly where they are and you can see the layout.

If you have an area that has been impacted this severely I would encourage you to realize that you don’t necessarily have to keep the same street patterns.  You have the opportunity to be able—either through the redevelopment process or the reconstruction process—to do lot consolidations.  You can include easements on roadways and create completely new roadways.

If you look at this as a clean slate all of a sudden you see that pre-disaster recovery planning could be a really terrific opportunity.  If something happens in the future you would have insights and vision into how you want it to be in the future.

[Slide 27]

The next of the categories is the psychological rehabilitation and recognizing that this kind of large event will have a massive impact on your own staff whether you are a city, county or other jurisdiction.  It also affects your citizens.  It affects business owners and the community.  What kinds of social services can you put in place to assist people with that aspect of recovery?

[Slide 28]

The next category is the issue of vital records.  The picture on the left shows the reason why.  Obviously you need to be able to protect your vital records and so this is another component of the plan.  Where are they actually being kept?  Most of us who do emergency management work recognize that it is critical that you have this whether you are doing a pre-disaster recovery plan or not.  This is a really vital component to your continuity planning.

[Slide 29]

Inter-jurisdictional relationships—I love this picture.  To me it just really exemplifies the challenges of inter-jurisdictional planning and if you think about where you are, you are one of the entities that are listed on the left.  If you are a public sector entity and you do in fact interact with all these different jurisdictions in one way or another and they will be impacted by you doing your pre-disaster recovery planning just as they will be involved in your actual response.

[Slide 30]

There is a policy group that was put together.  You certainly want to do that.  It is a standalone recovery task force.  It could be an existing group of some sort like a planning commission.  For those of you that don’t have city planning exposure or maybe you haven’t even talked with you city or county planners in your emergency managers in your emergency management efforts I encourage you to meet them.

After this presentation you will see rather clearly that the city planners have a lot to say in where buildings go, how they are used, how they are constructed and how infrastructure ties everything together.  Certainly, involving them in your task force would be a good idea.

[Slide 31]

In terms of lessons learned in this planning process we went through—even people who do planning on a regular basis or someone who does zoning code enforcement, someone that focuses on historic preservation and is protecting one particular aspect of the community or other kinds of specialized perspectives like the capital improvement plans that help us build infrastructure or other kinds of public improvements over a long period of time because it takes a long time to fund those things.

We realize how important each one of those items are in terms of making a statement and helping implement and pre-disaster recovery plan for the future.  These plans are all written in a sort of ideal world.  There are very few, at least in the city of Chula Vista, none of the documents talked at all about what the reality would be if they were ever impacted by a major disaster and how they would go back and re-look at any of these documents.

That was a real eye-opener for the entire group and I was pretty impressed by that as well.

[Slide 32]

The last couple of slides—I encourage you to realize you have a wealth of knowledge especially in the building department, the people who do the development planning.  There are so many, whether it is a map or different perspectives or blueprints of buildings—there are so many different resources out there that could be very valuable to you in doing your own pre-disaster planning.

[Slide 33]

I wanted to leave you with a recommendation.  I stumbled on this TED presentation by these two sisters who had been impacted by a tornado in their hometown, a small town in Massachusetts, where you really wouldn’t expect to see a tornado.  If you take a look at TED just type in “O’Neill sisters” as you can see on the slide here, and take a look.

They had nothing to do with disaster management but they were impacted and through good, strong social media skills they had a really vital role in helping to move the community towards recovery for the first few hours and days.  I’ll think you’ll be impacted by the fact that they are telling a story from a very different perspective from traditional emergency managers.

[Slide 34, 35]

The last couple of slides—I know that Amy has already posted some of the references I wanted to recommend.  That closes my formal presentation and I anxiously await your questions.  Thank you so much for your time.

[Slide 36]

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Carolyn. We do appreciate your remarks and I think you really communicated we do need to be thinking about this ahead of time. We will take questions and comments. Please keep your question or comment related to today’s topic and reasonably concise.  We are ready to begin now, so please enter your comment or question at any time.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

John Pyron: Thank you for your commentary on Recovery Misconception #2! I've been saying the same thing for a while in the Missouri Disaster Case Management Program and I'm glad that sentiment is being shared more widely.

Amy Sebring:  How important is it to involve your elected officials in this pre-disaster recovery planning?

Carolyn Harshman:  Very important, but here is the challenge of it—if you involve one you are pretty well forced to involve everyone.  As an example if you are dealing with a city council it is doubtful that you will get one liaison that will come in and serve as a representative of the council.  That’s my experience.

The reason is because when you start talking about development issues and property rights and things like that one representative will be very nervous about establishing a precedent or saying anything that sounds like any kind of policy.  My experience has been that the recovery team that is putting together the pre-disaster plan instead would present to the city council and get the entire council’s perspective.

They might even do a special workshop so they can talk about it but to have one member on the overall task force doesn’t seem to work very well.

Amy Sebring:  I know that at least in city government, there is usually some kind of Planning Commission. Did you do the Chula Vista recovery planning under that framework? Was the commission involved or the equivalent thereof?

Carolyn Harshman:  No, it was all staff members.  You had engineering, public works, planning departments, capital improvement programs, and the people and staff members who were actually involved in the development process.  After the plan was prepared it was presented in a workshop to the planning commission.

We actually went through several scenarios of how the community could be impacted with a particular planning scenario like a 7.5 earthquake in the middle of downtown Chula Vista as an example and gave them a very good sense about what it would look like and what kind of opportunities there could be to make improvements. With visuals, with graphics and with a good interactive workshop light bulbs definitely came on.

Jim Hutchinson: As changes to land use impact private property owners, how have you seen them incented to become engaged?

Carolyn Harshman:  In terms of doing pre-disaster recovery planning—typically that is something that happens within the jurisdiction and it is a policy document and it goes through a public review process.  Pre-disaster recovery planning isn’t on most people’s radar.  

Even though individual property owners probably would really like to have a say—they could have a say in how I can use my property.  That is pretty fundamental stuff.  Even though they would be very interested if they knew what it was you generally don’t see a lot of participation from the public on things like recovery and mitigation planning.

George Adams: How do you change the elected officials' mindsets "It will never happen here."

Carolyn Harshman: You know with schematics and things like Photoshop and GIS opportunities, and estimates—but altering photos is probably the absolute most powerful thing I’ve ever done.  If you do Photoshop and show what their community—they have to be able to look at it and say, “That’s my downtown” and turn it to rubble—I wasn’t even using sophisticated damage software.  It is something you can do with some fairly crude skills and have very convincing results.  There is nothing like seeing your downtown in a big pile to get the point.

Ric Skinner: You say we need a new definition of "recover", perhaps even a new term. What do you suggest that incorporates the need to "make better" and "improve resilience"?

Carolyn Harshman:  Thank you Rick for that comment.  Resilience is really the whole key.  Recover is a term you hear when you have surgery and go to recovery and then you recover after that.  It implies that it is going to take a few days or few weeks because we tend to use the word in the medical sector a lot. It always seems very defined—it’s not pleasant but it is going to be over soon.

I really do think a new word—and resilience is exactly what we want to talk about.  We don’t want to resist disaster because that is the big struggle and we are going to lose that battle.  To be resilient to disaster means that we have built using effective materials recognizing and respecting the power of nature and we can co-exist with nature—there is no doubt about it.  I think if we were going to change the word I would vote for resilience.

Kit Hope: How do you deal with those who see post-disaster re-zoning as illegal "taking" of their property (i.e. changing its intended use and therefore value)?

Carolyn Harshman:  That is a tricky one. When I was still a city planner I did some redevelopment planning so I understand the concept of taking and I will explain it briefly to the rest of the audience.  Let’s say that a highway is going to go in and part of your back yard is what needs to be in a future freeway easement so the government needs to be able to take it from you and you will be compensated for the land.

That is where the word “taking” comes from.  There are techniques that have been used in other parts of the country through the redevelopment process and also after rebuilding in general—not always using redevelopment money—where whole communities have been relocated away from the shoreline, away from an active or hyperactive river.

There are opportunities where you can do land swaps.  You can swap your land.  It can be dedicated for open space or some kind of easement or some kind of other acceptable use.  In exchange for that you would have access to maybe government owned property or lands that have been consolidated so you can go through a whole new subdivision process in another part of the town.

The key to it is—yes, I can understand the whole concept of taking.  At the same time though if you want to be able to live in your community and you don’t want to see your house washed away again you are going to have to relocate on your own and then you would be losing everything, or the possibility of having rebuild or retrofit.  Those can be very expensive.  I think we have to look outside the box and recognize we’ll be better off as a whole community if we take this approach.

Mark Stephensen: Current hazard mitigation grant funding through FEMA strenuously avoids both response enhancement and recovery.  Much skill will be needed to include this in hazard mitigation planning.  Ideas? Thoughts?

Amy Sebring:  More broadly, what is the relationship between your hazard mitigation plan and your recovery and reconstruction plan?

Carolyn Harshman:  I do both and there is definitely a segue and I think that if the mitigation plans were being more aggressive in talking about actively seeking out changing things like the general plan, the community plan, and the zoning ordinance the next time they are updated to actually seek out opportunity to stop putting the wrong buildings in harm’s way and be changing development patterns.

If you look across the country from a city planning perspective you would be horrified to see how many elementary schools and nursing homes are right by the river.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that is not really an appropriate place.  It is a big problem for many parts of the country.

We have laws in place in California that you can’t put a hospital on an earthquake fault but it took a law to do that because lots of times the information is not available to the public, it is maybe being covered up by the people that are doing the development.  Maybe maps aren’t available in the jurisdiction.  We tend to learn the hard way.

So getting back to the original question of the relationship between the mitigation plan—if you are effectively mitigating and that is minimizing or eliminating threats associated with hazards—if you are doing that through a successful mitigation process you will be making yourself more resilient.  It will not cover in the kind of detail you need some of the specific policies and components of the pre-disaster recovery plan.

Avagene Moore: Carolyn, thank you for the presentation.  What are the factors in pre-disaster recovery planning that are the biggest obstacles from your perspective?  How do we overcome them?

Carolyn Harshman: It just came up in a question a few minutes ago: the issue of taking. Any time the general plan is updated, the community plan is updated or the zoning ordinance is updated there are people who are watchdogs and community support organizations and developers and builders and people that benefit from the construction process—that are watching for either down-zoning—and some people would argue that is a form of taking.

If I used to be able to have a high density building and now I can only have a two-story house then you’ve been down-zoned.  There are issues like that and those are very politically sensitive.  You don’t go so far as to give specific details because you don’t know where the disaster is going to impact you.

You do want to have your ducks in a row.  You want to be open to the possibility of making those kinds of changes to the development codes should the opportunity ever arise.  Clearly the taking issue is the by far the number one point of resistance.

Kelly Klima: The Center for Clean Air Policy has an upcoming webinar on Bridging the Gap between Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation.  [See http://ccap.org/event/bridging-the-gap-between-hazard-mitigation-and-climate-adaptation-webinar/ ] Would you please comment on the overlaps you see between these groups?

Carolyn Harshman:  There is no doubt that we have a whole new category of hazard.  We thought we’d be looking at it in the next couple of hundred years and instead it is in our lifetime.  The factor of climate change in many regards is not that surprising from the perspective of many scientists.  The reality is that the earth is changing.  Nature is changing.

We have forest fires in the area near where I live and the population becomes very complacent after a forest fire is done because they have an attitude that it is not going to happen for another thousand years, and yet only a small amount of the burnable material has been destroyed so you could have another one the very next year.

I think that fact that we have many people who don’t understand much about nature and we don’t understand that much about how we need to be able to live together and cohabitate successfully.  I think there is a very important educational process there and that can be embedded in the mitigation planning process successfully.

Amy Sebring:  A perfect example of that is the “hundred year flood”.  

Carolyn Harshman:  Absolutely.  Talk about changing names—we need to change that one.

Jim Hutchinson: Have you done recovery planning with localities using the new DHS Concepts of Recovery Support Functions?

Carolyn Harshman: No, I have not, not since those have been published.  I would like to set some time aside to give some thought to how I would do that but I have not yet.

Amy Sebring: I am putting up your contact information slide. Also we skipped this slide but Carolyn did provide a number of references to various planning documents including the new long-term disaster framework document and some excellent publications from the American Planning Association.  You may not be aware of those if you are in the emergency management arena.  Those look like excellent resources.

Links to those documents are on the background page.  We also have a link to the TED talk so you don’t have to Google it.  It is quite interesting.  It really illustrates that if you don’t have your plans ready and ready to go, someone else will do it for you.

Jim Hutchinson:  I have seen the O’Neill sisters on TED.  It is an interesting talk.

Carolyn Hashman:  It certainly is.  People will be resourceful.  They will come together—it is our nature.  With social media now a group of people can be very powerful, as we know.

Jim Hutchinson: Did the Chula Vista city planners establish a "disaster overlay" when doing community planning? Or did you get that far?

Carolyn Harshman:  We did not get that far but it is written into the pre-disaster plan that they would want to establish an overlay.  An overlay—if you think about a map and you have a boundary or area—let’s say it is from a landslide—you are going to identify where that area is and that area would be considered an overlay for landslides.

The area that could be or has been impacted by a disaster—you would identify that as your study area.  We didn’t do that but that would be one of the first steps when they activate their plan.

Ric Skinner: (regarding a new term for recover) How about "resilify?"

Carolyn Harshman:  Ah, I like that!


Amy Sebring: We are going to wrap it up for today. On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you very much Carolyn for being with us today and sharing this valuable information. Even some places that are struggling and may be too late to pre-disaster recovery planning. If there is not a more vivid illustration of why communities should take these steps and get real with it, it is amply demonstrated on the east coast.

For our participants today thank you for your questions and comments. Before you go, PLEASE take a moment to do the rating and enter any additional comments you may have.  

This is our last program for 2012 and we have had a wonderful year. Our next program is scheduled for January 9th when our topic will be the National Weather Service’s Warning Decision Training Branch and the resources they have available for emergency managers including training on the new Dual Polarization Radars that are in the process of being installed around the country.  

We would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a safe and joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Have a great afternoon everyone!  We are adjourned.