Resilience Re-Examined: Thoughts on the COVID-19 Pandemic's Lessons for Communities

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Journal of Comparative Urban Law and Policy

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Prompted by this century’s major disasters, many local governments have adopted policies, plans, and laws to help guide their response to future natural hazard events. Some communities have prepared plans informed by their firsthand experience with recent catastrophic storms. Other communities have speculated about potential disaster scenarios; they have imagined the work involved in rebuilding their towns following an event that would threaten residents’ homes, health, and livelihoods. COVID-19 gives communities reason to reshape thinking around natural hazards planning. The ongoing pandemic should cause local governments to revisit and rework their plans for facilitating community recovery following a disaster. By providing a detailed nationwide picture of populations at risk from acute shocks to our economic, healthcare, and educational systems, COVID-19 highlights how communities are broadly vulnerable—beyond even the significant adversities revealed by a major hurricane, flood, or earthquake event. This essay examines a few ways that COVID-19 is reframing how we must plan for disaster response and recovery. Discussion of these changes will include consideration of: (1) the core focus that both philanthropic and government funders must place on making investments that promote equity; (2) the increasing incidence of serial disaster events and the imperative that local governments plan to navigate response to and recovery from successive hazard events; and (3) the important role that a robust infrastructure for data collection and analysis must play in promoting effective disaster response and long-term recovery.

Recommended Citation

John Travis Marshall, Resilience Re-Examined: Thoughts on the COVID-19 Pandemic's Lessons for Communities5(1) J. Comp. Urb L. & Pol'y, 52 (2022).





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