Post-Disaster Economic Recovery

The NADO Research Foundation has established this blog as an open forum for stakeholders of regional disaster mitigation and recovery. Posts will generally revolve around the economic impacts related to disaster recovery.

This blog is powered by the Resilient Regions initiative in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. To learn more about this program, please contact NADO program manger Mike Bellamente at

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The NADO Research Foundation Presents: Innovative Approaches to Disaster Recovery

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time: 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EDT


In the wake of disaster, economic revitalization takes time, patience and creativity. Once matters of health and safety have been restored, it is the job of local elected officials, business leaders, economic developers and members of the community to decide how to rebuild their home.

This webinar will draw from two diverse case studies that reflect very unique approaches to post-disaster economic recovery. First, we will examine the rebuilding efforts of communities along the upper Texas coast following Hurricanes Ike in 2008. Chuck Wemple, Economic Development Program Manager for the Houston-Galveston Area Council, will discuss tourism-related economic development efforts along with the Council's initiatives to bring wealth and commerce back to the community.

For the second part of the webinar, we will revisit the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota in the aftermath of the 1997 floods that decimated the city. Fourteen years on, we will hear from the former Director of Urban Development of Grand Forks, Terry Hanson, to better understand the downtown revitalization efforts that the city adopted following the event and how those efforts hastened the recovery process.

This webinar is brought to you by the NADO Research Foundation as part of an initiative funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to examine and distribute information related to the role of economic development in a post-disaster environment.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

From the NADO Research Foundation comes:

Restoring Regional Economies in the Wake of Disaster
Written by freelance writer Fred Baldwin, this report explores the pressing economic issues faced by regional councils and economic development organizations in the aftermath of natural disasters. Drawing from real world experiences of two otherwise vastly different regions—Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Galveston, Texas— and their responses to the Iowa Floods and Hurricane Ike, this report uncovers the unique roles these organizations play in revitalizing regional economic engines and the communities that depend on them. Also included in the report are insights gleaned from disaster recovery peer-learning forums attended by disaster recovery coordinators and regional economic development leaders from around the country.

To find the report online visit:

The NADO Research Foundation would like to thank all of the disaster recovery stakeholders who contributed to this report, in particular those who gave their time and expertise to tell the stories of Hurricane Ike and the Iowa Floods. We would also like to thank Fred Baldwin for writing the report and the U.S. Economic Development Administration for funding the project.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Presentations now Available: "Opportunities for Regional Organizations in a Post-Disaster Environment"

On Thursday, December 16, the NADO Research Foundation hosted a webinar on the role of regional councils and economic development organizations in disaster recovery.

The recorded webinar presentation can be downloaded by visiting our NADO Sharefile site.

To download a PDF version of the speaker slides, please click the name of the corresponding presenter below:

Nationwide, the involvement of regional councils and economic development organizations (EDOs) in disaster recovery has been as diverse as the regions they represent. Some have entire programs dedicated to disaster-related issues, whereas others administer recovery funding only in a limited capacity.

The goal of this webinar was to provide a more formalized framework for regional councils and EDOs on a national level, and to better define their role in post-disaster recovery.

The NADO Research Foundation conducted this web broadcast in cooperation with the U.S. Economic Development Administration under grant agreement #08-79-04379.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Join us for a Complimentary Webinar on December 16, 2010

Opportunities for Regional Organizations in a Post-Disaster Environment

Nationwide, the involvement of regional councils and economic development organizations (EDOs) in disaster recovery has been as diverse as the regions they represent. Some have entire programs dedicated to disaster-related issues, whereas others administer recovery funding only in a limited capacity.

The goal of this webinar is to provide a more formalized framework for
regional councils and EDOs on a national level, and to better define their role in post-disaster recovery.

Our Speakers:

· Laurie Johnson, PhD AICP – Principal, Laurie Johnson Consulting

· Josh Barnes – Program Manager, U.S. Economic Development Administration

· Eric Berman – HAZUS Program Manager, Federal Emergency Management Administration

Laurie Johnson, PhD AICP, will present a 3-phase framework for regional councils in post-disaster recovery, leveraging knowledge of their region’s communities and economies, as well as their expertise in planning, data collection and management, GIS, and federal funding management and distribution.

In particular, the 3-phase framework will explore the potential functions of conducting post-disaster economic assessments, providing standards and technical assistance for post-disaster recovery planning and implementation, and establishing data standards and promoting sustained information management and sharing among disaster-impacted communities as they recover.

Laurie’s proposed framework is based upon 20-plus years of studying and working with communities impacted by major disasters, including New Orleans, LA following Hurricane Katrina, Grand Forks, ND after the 1997 Red River flood, and many California communities impacted by the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes.

Participants of the broadcast will also be introduced to the National Disaster Recovery framework by Joshua Barnes of the U.S. Economic Development Administration. EDA is leading the effort to develop an Economic Development Recovery Support Function (RSF) as part of the national framework – an effort intended to better formalize the post-disaster economic recovery process.

Also presenting on the call will be Eric Berman of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who will offer a high-level overview about their HAZUS risk assessment methodology.

NADO Research Foundation is conducting this web broadcast in cooperation with the U.S. Economic Development Administration under grant agreement #08-79-04379.


Opportunities for Regional Councils in a Post-Disaster Environment


Thursday, December 16, 2010


2:00 PM - 3:30 PM EST

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tales from the Gulf

Two months ago, a colleague and I were sent to the Gulf of Mexico as part of a larger effort to conduct county-by-county economic assessments under Admiral Thad Allen's Deepwater Horizon recovery initiative.

Ironically, one of the findings during the multi-state assessment was how the State of Louisiana is suffering disproportionately from the deepwater oil drilling moratorium imposed to prevent similar catastrophes; a testament to just how far the roots and employment base of big oil extends in the Gulf.

In the Florida panhandle, a host of other findings surfaced. For one, the spill had a compounding effect on a region that has already seen its share of economic woe. As one resident put it, "to be hit with the collapse of the housing market, then the recession, and now the BP oil spill is just a perfect storm of events that is killing our community."

Commercial and recreational fishing has been devastated (from perception just as much as the oil itself), tourism has nosedived (after initial projections for 2010 looked promising) and small businesses continue to suffer.

Recommendations to county stakeholders during the initiative were many. Below, however, are a few that could pertain to any community prone to disaster-related events:

• Create a formal business recruitment, retention and expansion strategy
• Work with educational institutions (community college, vocational schools, etc) to develop curricula that support the major employers of the region
• Devise methods of diversifying employment base and better capitalize on regional assets
• Develop a brand for your region/community and market the brand in cooperation with your stakeholders
• Create a plan to benchmark municipal energy/utility costs and develop a strategy to reduce those costs through efficiency improvements, retrofits and weatherization programs
• Problems in the community are exponentially compounded by disasters -- know your short-comings to attracting new employers (antiquated infrastructure, poor education system, access to recreation, etc) and work toward improving on them

Now that the well is permanently capped, spill-impacted counties can begin the recovery process in earnest. In addition to filing for lost revenues through the process for private citizens and businesses, there are also several million dollars in competitive grants being offered by the Economic Development Administration and other federal agencies for local governments adversely affected by the spill.

One can only hope that the resilience of these tourism and fishing dependent communities is as strong as their resolve to flourish once again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lessons Learned from Exxon Valdez

On Tuesday, July 13, the NADO Research Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), conducted a webcast to benefit spill-impacted communities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The broadcast, Recovering from the BP Gulf Oil Disaster, Lessons Learned from Exxon Valdez, sought to reduce the learning curve of recovery by drawing on the experience of former members of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council in Alaska. Click here for the presentation slides and click here for the recorded broadcast.

Opening the webinar with remarks about the role of EDA and the federal government in the Gulf, EDA Assistant Secretary John Fernandez noted the importance of the people of the region to remain resilient in what is expected to be a multi-year recovery effort. Assistant Secretary Fernandez continued by saying, "We're going to work with the communities and our partners in the area to coordinate a long-term recovery so we can stabilize the [Gulf Coast] economy and help rebuild it."

Speakers for the event were:

- Dave Cobb, former Mayor of Valdez, AK, former member of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council and current Business Manager of the Valdez Fisheries

- Molly McCammon, Executive Director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System and former Executive Director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council

Among the many salient points made by our speakers, below are a few that resonated about what to expect in the months and years ahead:
  • Dig in for the long haul - with regard to Exxon Valdez, litigation and claims processes lasted as long as fifteen years in some cases -- expect the best from BP, but prepare for the worst
  • Keep good records - in order to receive compensation from BP, or to be eligible for federal assistance, documentation is required to substantiate claims of lost wages and lost business revenues
  • Find your inner entrepreneur - although several industries are likely to be negatively affected by the spill, several economic opportunities will emerge as a result of the spill itself including increased housing demand and the need for support services for personnel involved in the cleanup
  • Every man for themselves - don't wait for assistance from someone else (BP, federal or otherwise). Impacted businesses and citizens should take steps within their power to restore their own livelihood
The latest good news related to the spill is that the latest attempt to cap the well appears to be working. From BP's web site on July12: "The three ram capping stack was installed on the Deep Water Horizon Lower Marine Riser Package at 7 p.m. CDT. The stack completes the installation of the new sealing cap." (source)

For three agonizing months there has been painfully little to celebrate along the shores of the Gulf. Now, a week beyond the latest (and seemingly most successful) attempt at containing the well, residents of the Gulf can finally, if only momentarily, breathe a collective sigh of relief.

And now the recovery begins in earnest...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Balancing Act of Recovery

On the heels of a disaster recovery workshop in Galveston,TX, a delayed flight had me revisiting some of the comments made during the event, one of which stood out in particular. The session topic was "Hurdles to Recovery" and although there were many valid points about the need for a streamlined federal funding process and the need for better regional coordination, there was one thought that added great clarity to the discussion: disasters take existing problems in a community and make them a whole lot worse.

When discussing issues like poverty, crime and unemployment, these are trends that tend to have a relatively predictable trajectory unless influenced by an outside force (say a plant closing or a natural disaster). As we've seen already in the BP Gulf oil disaster, spoiled fishing grounds have caused a ripple effect in industries related to tourism and seafood that has sparked a dramatic increase in unemployment and psychological distress. Less than five years removed from Katrina, with some coastal communities already faced with high unemployment and poverty rates, the spill couldn't have come at a worse time.

As strategies for recovery unfold following a disaster, it becomes necessary to balance competing priorities in a way that's fair and equitable. When bridges are crumbling, repairing physical infrastructure tends to trump a community's desire to retrofit government buildings with Energy Star-rated appliances... that's a fact. But what happens when bridges are crumbling, the tax base is eroding under the weight of shuttered businesses and workers are finding themselves without a place to live because they can no longer pay the mortgage? Oftentimes there will be federal or state government financial aid (or BP payouts in the case of the Gulf), but beyond that, disaster-impacted cities and towns are the ones responsible for building back their own communities.

Chances are, most members of a community will stick around for the rebuilding process following a disaster. Whether it is due to pride or merely a sense of family roots that keeps people tethered, the reasons vary. But, much like the City of New York following September 11, when adversity is at its highest (especially in America) communities tend to band together for the sake of building back stronger than they were before. This leads me to believe that, although disaster's may exacerbate issues faced by a community, nothing motivates people more perhaps, than being put in a position to prove their mettle.