Disaster Recovery Guidance: Qualitative Interview Report



Few of the readily available disaster recovery guidance documents were designed with the specific skills and experience of planners in mind. These resources tend to focus on the recovery process without paying attention to the importance of integrating and aligning recovery activities with the community's existing plans and processes.

The American Planning Association partnered with Texas A&M University to design a mixed-methods research project that would generate the evidence base needed to guide planning practitioners on leveraging existing planning activities and programs for recovery and resilience.

The qualitative findings from 33 in-depth interviews with experienced disaster recovery professionals are summarized in this Qualitative Interview Report.


Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 2019
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

Table of Contents

Executive Summary




Interview Guide Development

Data Collection and Analysis



Theme 1: Planners did not perceive themselves, or were not perceived by others, as central to the disaster recovery process even though their skillsets are important to recovery efforts.

Theme 2: There is a need for wider coordination and collaboration between planners and other professionals, agencies, and communities working in disaster recovery.

Theme 3: Learning about disaster recovery should take various forms but be centered on best practices through coaching and mentorship.

Theme 4: Planners most benefited when learning about disaster recovery from fellow professionals who had been through recovery before elsewhere.

Theme 5: Planners navigated policy options for recovery by learning on their own, improvising, or applying best practices to maximize efforts.

Theme 6: Planners are overwhelmed by general information but felt that they had limited access to specific information for community-level disaster recovery planning.

Theme 7: Lack of coordination of volunteer planning advisory teams, technical support teams, external volunteers, and additional resources and donations hinder local recovery planning processes.

Theme 8: Recovery funding was frustrating due to lack of clear guidelines, the conditionalities of various funding streams, and the optimal use of available funding to support disaster recovery planning.

Theme 9: Translating indicators and goals for equity and inclusivity into tangible outcomes in the disaster recovery planning process at the community level is difficult.

Theme 10: Public participation in the disaster recovery planning was primarily expert-led, rather than community-centered, and used traditional methods of obtaining public feedback.



Appendix A: Interview Guide