Five Years Later: Are We Learning from the Storm? The Importance of Institutional Learning and Community-Centric Approaches to Building Local Resilience

Krithika Prabhakaran
Climate change has posed tremendous threats to nations worldwide, and the impacts have been widely felt across the United States. In recent years, natural disasters have affected some of our country's most densely populated areas, leaving coastal areas vulnerable, many communities and businesses at-risk, and thousands struggling even today (Anderson, 2016). In fact, evidence shows that "beyond tearing apart physical infrastructure and claiming lives, natural disasters damage social bonds and
more » ... social bonds and community networks, debilitating communities even after infrastructure is rebuilt" (Landau, 2017). With the prevalence and frequency of natural disasters steadily increasing, the question of how to best build community resilience in a way that not only mitigates hazards, but also significantly reduces vulnerabilities and social impact is more crucial than before. Because the topic of disaster resiliency is fairly young and has only recently become an organizing principle of disaster policy and practice, the evidence base regarding best practices for implementing resilience at the local level is still emerging. According to Cutter and Emrich, less attention has also been attributed to scholarly analyses of policy learning and change given that recovery is still the least understood (and least studied) part of the emergency management cycle (Cutter & Emrich, 2015). However, research shows that recovery is most difficult in areas where "people do not mobilize the internal and external resources available to address the vulnerabilities and issues they face" (Dieye, 2012). Yet, according to Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, building community resilience in the face of disaster risk can also have multiple benefits for a community even in the absence of a disaster, helping resolve "mundane challenges" as well (NAP, 2012). In such cases, community-based organizations can be an important contribution to cultivating resilient efforts. In the case of Hurricane Sandy, critical lessons demonstrate that underlying issues [...]
doi:10.7916/d8cg007d fatcat:a6yd4cfvnfgv5iauvdwgfoaurm