Post-Disaster Annotated Bibliography

General Post-Disaster Recovery

Alesch, Daniel, Lucy A. Arendt, and James M. Nolly. 2009. Managing for Long-Term Community Recovery in the Aftermath of Disaster. Fairfax, Va.: P.E.R.I. Press.

This book highlights the challenges in restoring the social, political, and economic elements of a community after a disaster. The intended audience is both local officials and leaders as it bridges the gap between government's emergency response and long-term community recovery necessary after a disaster. Based on years of cumulative research and case studies, it teaches readers how to adapt to new realities and the new norm.

Birch, Eugenie L., and Susan M. Wachter. 2006. Rebuilding Urban Places after Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

The book describes the hefty and inevitable prevalence of disasters in our modern world, especially the disproportionate effect on cities due to their high density. Using Hurricane Katrina as a case study, the authors focus on four main points: making cities less vulnerable, strengthening economic vitality, responding to the needs of the homeless and displaced in an emergency, and recreating a sense of security and home. Written immediately after the hurricane, this work serves as a write-up of lessons learned and best practices.

Olshansky, Robert B., and Stephanie E. Chang. 2009. "Planning for Disaster Recovery: Emerging Research Needs and Challenges." Progress in Planning 72: 195-250.

This is one of two special issues of Progress in Planning about new research and paradigms in the planning field. Bringing together multiple authors (two main are noted) from different schools of planning, the chapters discuss disaster recovery and mitigation, climate change, and urbanization in terms of relevance to today's research agendas. Also discusses how these topics can influence the assessment of current academic planning programs in the United States.

Smith, Gavin. 2010. Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: A Review of the United States Disaster Assistance Framework. Fairfax, VA: P.E.R.I. Press.

In a general review of the federal framework, Smith argues that the typical government response to disasters is narrowly defined and not nearly as helpful as it could be; recovery is therefore full of too many stakeholders — fragmented and somewhat ineffective. The author states that assistance comes in three forms: financial, policy-based, and technical. All must be used together.

Solnit, Rebecca. 2009. A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster. New York: Penguin Books.

Solnit considers her book an investigation of why people do what they do in disasters by focusing on what drives them. Looking at multiple disasters — starting with the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 up to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — this work is important for planners who want to understand the emotional and psychological impacts of a disaster. She also looks at societal impacts (positive and negative) as a whole.

Tierney, K.J., Michael K. Lindell, and R.W. Perry. 2001. Facing the Unexpected: Disaster Preparedness and Response in the United States. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press.

Deriving information from the past 25 years of study, the authors attempt to answer questions about how these past disasters can improve our disaster mitigation and recovery. Using a wide lens they also consider the position of the government, its professionalism in dire times, and its effectiveness with its people. They compare different types of disasters and how technology plays a role in them and in our ever-growing, technology-dependent society. Lastly, they discuss sustainable redevelopment after a disaster.

Vale, Lawrence J., and Thomas J. Campanella. 2005. The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster. New York: Oxford University Press.

In a book focused on historical facts, the authors begin with the 1871 Great Fire of Chicago, then travel throughout international history. They present their findings to readers about the rebuilding of these cities, post-disaster, from the ground up. They find disaster recovery to be symbolic and cathartic, showcasing not only the strength of the city but also the strength of the human spirit.

Case Studies

Association of State Floodplain Managers, Inc. 2012. Hurricane Sandy Recovery: Using Mitigation to Rebuild Safer and More Sustainable Communities. December 13. Available at

This paper outlines some of the actions that communities, individuals, businesses, and state and federal officials can take to reduce the suffering, damage, and risks from events like Hurricane Sandy in the future. It makes the point that reconstruction must balance the critical nature of coastal wetlands, barrier islands, and other natural shoreline processes with the economic uses unique to the Northeast in order to make communities there more resilient.

Berke, Philip, and Thomas Campanella. 2006. "Planning for Post-Disaster Resiliency." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Social and Political Sciences 604(5): 192-208.

This article takes into account the story of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when teaching how to plan for resilience after a disaster. The authors use their wealth of prior research to discuss resilient planning for both federal and state government officials. Using this knowledge, they recommend policy and law changes that foster pre-disaster long-term community recovery, along with what to do to build resilience in an area after a catastrophe.

Freudenburg, William R., Robert Gramling, Shirley Laska, et al. 2009. Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Discussing the controversial question of why disasters happen, the authors hypothesize that they may be of our own making. This is a provocative book in which they suggest that Hurricane Katrina was not a natural disaster but a man-made one that could have been avoided. Blaming the majority of these tragedies on government failure and selfish economic desires, the authors warn that the United States "growth machine" will next destroy the states of California and Missouri through similar environmental destruction.

Olshansky, Robert B., Laurie A. Johnson, Jedidiah Horne, et al. 2008. "Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans." Journal of the American Planning Association 74(3): 273-287.

An article that summarizes the key planning challenges during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Written as a case study with interviews featuring current leaders in New Orleans, this paper aims to identify lessons for planners faced with future disasters. It concludes that the most important factors regarding post-disaster recovery are previous plans, citizen involvement, information infrastructure, and external resources. It also discusses the framework of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Olshansky, Robert B., Laurie A. Johnson, and Kenneth C. Topping. 2006. "Rebuilding Communities Following Disaster: Lessons from Kobe and Los Angeles." Built Environment 32(4): 354-374.

This article begins by discussing the similarities and differences between the 1994 Northridge earthquake and the Kobe earthquake in 1995. Comparing both regional and national policies for disasters, the authors comment on seven urban districts within each municipality of study. The paper aims to turn post-disaster planning into a "fast, effective, and equitable" process. It suggests that the post-disaster recovery area should eventually improve on the previous conditions.

Olshansky, Robert B. 2006. "Planning after Hurricane Katrina." Journal of the American Planning Association 72(2): 147-153.

The author considers the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the greatest planning problem he has ever seen and offers his insights on how it can be approached. To enable continued success, one must follow planning precedent while applying new knowledge in the disaster field. Readers are encouraged to learn about the funding and public participation needed for full recovery.

Economic Recovery

French, Steven P., Dalbyul Lee, and Kristofor Anderson. 2010. "Estimating the Social and Economic Consequences of Natural Hazards: Fiscal Impact Example." Natural Hazards Review11(2).

This paper takes into account physical damage estimates to help measure the actual consequences of a disaster. Used as a planner's or local decision maker's guide to correctly mitigate and respond to an event, this economics-inspired work encompasses all aspects of U.S. sociology and race politics. Throughout, the authors develop quantitative models that measure these different impacts.

Klein, Naomi. 2007. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Metropolitan Books.

A controversial book about disaster politics and how world leaders manipulate tragedies in their favor (which the author calls the "bait-and-switch"). She suggests that in times of disaster and recovery, hidden and inequitable policies are passed for leaders' own gain. Her examples include 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the War on Terror, and the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Federal Recovery Policy

Burby, Raymond. 2006. "Hurricane Katrina and the Paradoxes of Government Disaster Policy: Bringing About Wise Governmental Decisions for Hazardous Areas." The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 604(1).

The author describes the losses from Hurricane Katrina in the framework of two paradoxes — the safe development paradox and the local government paradox. In spite of these problems, tragedies like this could be halted if governments created comprehensive plans focusing on mitigation before emergency. Burby suggests that, by reworking the Flood Insurance Act and the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, we can focus more on communities as a whole rather than individuals in times of recovery.

Housing Recovery

Comerio, Mary C. 1998. Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery. Berkeley: University of California Press.

This book focuses on what happens after the disaster rather than before or during it; the author is concerned with urban residents and the recovery of damaged housing. Using case studies of six major international disasters, she points out fundamental differences regarding recovery periods throughout history until today. Population growth, technology, and governmental changes all contribute to the future of disasters, and existing recovery systems are still inadequate. Intended audience is policy makers and property owners.

Land Use and Development

Burby, Raymond, Robert E. Deyle, David R. Godschalk, and Robert Olshansky. 2000. "Creating Hazard Resilient Communities through Land-Use Planning." Natural Hazards Review 1(2).

Defining land-use planning as the single most important aspect of sustainable hazard mitigation, this article describes steps to successful land-use planning. Combining more than 20 years of research, the authors apply their knowledge of planning processes and hazard assessments. This article is useful for emergency planners as a guide for considering how comprehensive plans and development regulations can help communities avoid natural hazards.

Stevens, Mark R., Philip R. Berke, and Yan Song. 2008. "Protecting People and Property: The Influence of Land-Use Planners on Flood Hazard Mitigation in New Urbanist Developments." Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 51(6).

Local land-use planners help governments choose the priority they place on flood mitigation. Using regression analysis and other tools such as case study review, the authors determine the actual impact land-use planners have on new urbanist developments. Concluding that land-use planners have a high impact on these neighborhoods, the authors recommend that governments adopt a land-use planning approach to flood hazard mitigation.


Berke, Philip R., Yan Song, and Mark Stevens. 2009. "Integrating Hazard Mitigation into New Urban and Conventional Developments." Journal of Planning Education and Research 28(4).

The authors compare (in 33 case studies) success in hazard mitigation for new urbanist versus conventional neighborhoods. Although new urbanism originated as a response to sprawl, concerns over higher-density development in these areas raise questions of hazard safety. The authors recommend changes in new urbanist public policy and model codes.

Godschalk, David, Samuel Brody, and Raymond Burby. 2003. "Public Participation in Natural Hazard Mitigation Policy Formation: Challenges for Comprehensive Planning." Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 46(5).

Public participation in hazard mitigation is quite low. Why is that the case? The authors dissect case studies from Florida and Washington and offer recommendations for future use. The article offers suggestions on how to make public participation in mitigation policy more effective.

Godschalk, David. 2004. "Breaking the Disaster Cycle: Future Directions in Natural Hazard Mitigation." Washington, D.C.: FEMA.

This training course is structured as a graduate seminar on mitigation policy, programs, and practice. The crux of the study is focused on an analysis of current hazard mitigation policies. After discussing the present day, Godschalk gives an overview of the historic evolution of disaster policy within the U.S. through using case studies. In total, there were 17 sessions of this course offered, with PDFs and PowerPoint presentations available from each class period.

Godschalk, David, Adam Rose, Elliot Mittler, et al. 2009. "Estimating the Value of Foresight: Aggregate Analysis of Natural Hazard Mitigation Benefit and Costs." Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 52(6).

This paper discusses the outcome of the 2005 government-mandated study, "Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves." Through aggregate cost-benefit analysis, it has been proved that $1 spent on hazard mitigation is $4 saved in the event of a disaster. This has given planners valuable lessons such as the need to consider a wide variety of losses, uncovering social issues, qualitative and quantitative studies, and act with foresight.

Godschalk, David. March 2006. "Buildout Analysis: A Valuable Planning and Hazard Mitigation Tool." Zoning Practice 3. Chicago: American Planning Association.

This issue of Zoning Practice features the buildout analysis tool for hazard mitigation. Buildout analysis works as a way to project future growth in an area under existing community development policies, in order to estimate the damage from a potential future disaster. It may be based on land parcels or zoning districts. The article also discusses the HAZUS-MH tool and notes case studies in which these applications were used. It is useful in assessing community safety in light of present zoning.

Inam, Aseem. 2005. Planning for the Unplanned. New York: Routledge Publishing.

Questioning how cities plan for disasters, the author argues that cities rely on the old and the familiar. The book relies heavily on institutional framework/paradigms and uses case studies from Mexico City, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Schwab, James C. 2010. Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning. Planning Advisory Service Report no. 560. Chicago: American Planning Association.

Written in conjunction with FEMA, this report was created to close the gap between hazard mitigation and other types of planning. It offers case study applications along with best practice examples to readers and recommendations for ways to implement this type of planning in comprehensive and long-range plans.

Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plans

Baker, Earl J., Robert E. Deyle, Timothy S. Chapin, et al. 2008. "Are We Any Safer? Comprehensive Plan Impacts on Hurricane Evacuation and Shelter Demand in Florida." Coastal Management Journal 36: 294-317.

A study that covers five coastal communities throughout Florida and their state-mandated comprehensive plan policies for hurricanes from 2002 forward. Different models were used to calculate evacuation times and shelter demand. The authors recommend that a concurrent management strategy be implemented for all southern states that follow Florida requirements.

Florida Department of Community Affairs and Florida Division of Emergency Management. 2010. Post-Disaster Redevelopment Planning: A Guide for Florida Communities.

This guidebook is the culmination of Florida's Statewide Post-Disaster Redevelopment Planning Initiative to assist counties by providing best practice examples of post-disaster redevelopment. Six Florida communities were selected as pilots and are documented as case studies. Recommendations are ranked either minimum, recommended, or advanced. The guide focuses on Florida-specific planning standards and hazards, but the planning process and topic areas are applicable to many U.S. communities. The document was prepared by consulting agency C.S.A. International.

Meyer, Sandy, Eugene Henry, Roy E. Wright, and Cynthia A. Palmer. 2010."Post-Disaster Redevelopment Planning: Local Capacity Building through Pre-Event Planning." Journal of Disaster Research 5(5): 552-564.

Drawing upon the lessons learned from the impacts of the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, local governments and the State of Florida sought a way to change behavior toward creating greater community resilience. This paper highlights key outcomes yielded by the post-disaster redevelopment planning initiative, including methodologies for integrating risk-based decision making within existing community processes and a best practice example of merging recovery, mitigation, response, and preparedness principles.

Olshansky, Robert B., and Laurie A. Johnson. 2010. Clear as Mud: Planning for the Redevelopment of New Orleans. Chicago: APA Planners Press.

Covering the first 22 months of recovery after Hurricane Katrina, hands-on planners Olshansky and Johnson describe their experiences. Their insight from working with community leaders in New Orleans gives a unique approach to the disaster period, and they document their own thoughts and those of the community leaders and policymakers that they interviewed. Their aim is to have this book used by still unharmed locations in time of disaster.


Topping, Kenneth, Harou Hayashi, William Siembieda, et al. 2010. "Building Local Capacity for Disaster Resilience." Journal of Disaster Research 5(2 & 5).

A compilation of eight papers and one commentary about disaster resilience and sustainability. Resilience is defined through three steps — surviving disaster, retaining essential ways of life, and adapting to post-disaster opportunities. This "smart" resilience must be reached by both hard and soft strategies. Through a series of case studies around the world the authors come together to explain their experiences.

Social and Public Health Issues

National Research Council. 2006. Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

Following social science (sociology) research from the 1970s, the book states that not enough is being done in the field of disasters. More study is needed on social vulnerabilities and their impact on human response to hazards. Over 30 recommendations are offered for the hazard and disaster community.

Specific Disaster Types

Coastal Storms (includes hurricanes)

Beatley, Timothy. 2009. Planning for Coastal Resilience: Best Practices for Calamitous Times. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Hailed as a staple for any library in the coastal region (more than 50 percent of Americans live near some sort of coast), this book of best practices preaches resilience in coastal infrastructure. Beatley states that the primary planning principle for new developments should be resilience. He studies five coastal areas in the United States and supplies six "resilience profiles" from other communities and key solutions.

Deyle, Robert E., Timothy S. Chapin, and Earl J. Baker. 2008. "The Proof of the Planning Is in the Platting: An Evaluation of Florida's Hurricane Exposure Mitigation Planning Mandate." Journal of the American Planning Association 74(3): 349-370.

This article studies the 1985 Florida mandate that forced communities to create policies for two types of hurricane zones: coastal high hazard areas and hurricane vulnerability zones. Did municipalities follow these laws? The authors investigate and report on the success of Florida's local plans. They conclude that these mandates had only marginal effects on local municipalities, and that the residential exposure to hurricane flood hazards grew in the majority of 74 communities studied.


Meck, Stuart, and James C. Schwab. 2005. Planning for Wildfires. APA Planning Advisory Service Report no. 529/530.Chicago: American Planning Association.

A report written in collaboration with the National Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Program, this is a great work to begin a discussion of wildfire prevention. The authors' research was split into two main areas: best practice examples and plan considerations for communities with wildfire hazards.


Lindell, Michael K., Zhenghong Tang, Carla S. Prater, et al. 2008. "Measuring Tsunami Planning Capacity on the U.S. Pacific Coast." Natural Hazards Review 9(2).

Focusing on tsunamis and their potential for forming in a variety of locations, the authors report that with effective hazard management plans, a tsunami's effects can be minimized. Many states currently have mandates for hurricanes or tornadoes; the states on the Pacific Coast need a planning framework and/or mandate for tsunamis. Forty-three coastal counties were considered as case studies where local plan quality was measured. The average score given to these communities was weak: 12.25 out of 50 points.


Frew, Suzanne, Laurie Johnson, and Laura Samant. 2005. Planning for the Unexpected. APA Planning Advisory Service Report no. 531. Chicago: American Planning Association.

A report funded by the Public Entity Risk Institute, this brings together the topics of environmental, capital, economic, social, and institutional risks. Using case studies from California, Florida, Maryland, and Minnesota, the authors give their risk management framework as a toolkit for evaluating your own hazard mitigation plan. A large part of this work is also dedicated to land-use planning and decision making.

Lindell, Michael K., and Carla S. Prater. 2003. "Assessing Community Impacts of Natural Disasters." Natural Hazards Review 4(4).

The authors produce a coherent framework for community impacts after natural disasters. They include not only financial and planning impacts but explore physical and social problems and how to reduce them. This article is a basic summary of hazard mitigation and emergency preparedness on inclusive communities.

Rubin, Claire B. 2009. Disaster Time Line (1988-2008). In print and PDF.

A visual aid covering every major disaster from 1988 to 2008. Includes reports and documents, statutes, executive directive, national strategy plans and national level exercises, and other federal actions and organizational changes. The creator supplies readers with information about FEMA, along with a legend and glossary of disaster information. The timeline provides an introduction to disasters and federal policies.