[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
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This picture in terms of households—you can see this beautiful mansion
before and the contrast with what today’s representation looks like.
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.
Therefore what are the challenges of recovery planning and why am I recommending that you do pre-disaster recovery planning?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.