Recovering from Disaster Happens on Multiple Levels

After disaster events like the ones that recently occurred in Japan, the recovery process affects both individuals and the community or municipality as a whole. And according to a recent article by Caroline McDonald for, this recovery process happens on multiple levels and is highly dependent on the culture of the area and its residents.

According to Daniel J. Alesch, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin and coauthor of Managing for Long-Term Community Recovery in the Aftermath of Disaster, with Lucy A. Arendt, Ph.D., and James N. Holly, Ph.D., the stronger the community, the fewer the adverse consequences after disaster strikes.

After most disasters, recovery can include getting water, treating sewage, and finding ways to make it possible to carry on business and life. But when an entire city is demolished, recovery takes on a whole new meaning.

“The Japanese have a term called ‘Life Recovery,’” Alesch said, as quoted in the article, “which means recovery at the level of the individual, the family and the household to be viable in the new environment.”

Preparing for disaster at a municipal level can range from implementing insurance policies to long-term advance planning. “If you’re smart, what you try to do is not put dangerous things in dangerous places,” he added.

When assessing the disaster in Japan, Alesch is confident Japan will recover. “If you look at New Orleans, it was a failure before [Hurricane Katrina]. Too many people, too few jobs. So their prospects for a recovery as a city system, within the New Orleans Parish, might be 20 years,” he pointed out in the article.

Alesch pointed out that Japan will be back on its feet much sooner than areas like New Orleans will be, thanks to the culture’s preparedness and response initiatives.

For more information about the issues surrounding municipality disaster recovery, read the full article: