Fire Management Paper

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b’Topic: Week 3 Fire Management Paper’
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Week 3 Learning Resources

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This page contains the Learning Resources for this week. Be sure to scroll down the page to see all of this week’s assigned Learning Resources. To access select media resources, please use the media player below.

Required Resources

Readings

  • Canton, L. G. (2007). Emergency management: Concepts and strategies for effective programs. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Chapter 6, “Developing Strategy”

Chapter 6 DEVELOPING STRATEGY

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

—Sun Tzu

As was noted in the previous chapter, risk assessment is the basis of the emergency management program. Upon completion of a risk assessment, planners should have a fairly complete picture of community vulnerability to potential hazards. Risk assessment also helps to put hazards in perspective, allowing for policy decisions that prioritize the use of scarce resources and focus planning on those events that represent the greatest risk to the community.

Basing emergency management policy on risk would seem to be common sense but the record of government has not been particularly good in this area. Funding for emergency management through the Emergency Management Preparedness Grant has always used a fixed base amount for each state plus a small amount based on population. When funds are looked at on a per capita basis, there is a great inequity in the distribution of funds, with those states with the greatest risk actually receiving less per capita than smaller states. Further, there is no basis for believing that population alone is a reasonable indicator of potential risk.

When one considers the much-trumpeted war on terrorism, one is forced to conclude that this policy is also not based on an accurate assessment of risk. If one looks at terrorism from an actuarial perspective, the mortality rate from terrorism in 2001 was on a par with deaths from drowning (2,978 to 3,247). In contrast, 700,142 Americans died of heart disease that year and the common flu kills about 36,000 a year. The economic impact of September 11 is estimated at $84–92 billion; the cost for Hurricane Katrina is estimated to exceed $200 billion. This is not meant to in anyway diminish the events of September 11 or to suggest that terrorism is not a threat. It merely points out that a community’s risk to terrorism is a product of its vulnerabilities and the risk will vary from community to community, as it does with any hazard. Terrorism is not the principal risk in every jurisdiction in the United States.

Basing emergency management policy on risk may actually require an adjustment for many jurisdictions. Most emergency management programs are the product of the Cold War, with their single focus on national preparedness and additional responsibilities have accrued to them over the years without a basis in local policy. However, if the emergency management program is to be cohesive and consistent with community values and goals, it must be driven by strategies derived from policies based on risk.

A NEW LOOK AT AN OLD MODEL

One of the seminal events in the history of emergency management was the National Governors’ Association study in 1978 that introduced the comprehensive emergency management model. The model recognizes four phases of emergency management:

  • •Mitigation—efforts taken to eliminate or reduce the impacts of hazards
  • •Preparedness—efforts to develop the capacity to respond to disasters
  • •Response—actions taken to deal with the impact of a disaster
  • •Recovery—actions taken to restore the community to normal

 

Figure 6.1 Comprehensive emergency management model.

Since the advent of Homeland Security, there has been a push by law enforcement to add a fifth phase called prevention. The draft changes to NFPA 1600 adds prevention and defines it as “activities to avoid an incident or to stop an emergency from occurring.” It further limits mitigation to “activities taken to reduce the severity or consequences of an emergency.” This type of political hairsplitting serves little purpose as the model has successfully formed the basis of emergency planning for almost 30 years. The definition of mitigation as “efforts taken to eliminate or reduce the impacts of hazards” would seem to encompass both elements.

From the policy perspective, if terrorism is viewed as just one of multitude of hazards that must be considered by a jurisdiction during risk assessment, then it integrates well into an all-hazards model. One assesses the risk, identifying potential targets and possible scenarios. One mitigates the risk through programs such as intelligence assessment (non-structural mitigation) or through target hardening (structural mitigation). One prepares for potential scenarios by developing plans, training personnel, and acquiring equipment. One responds if the event occurs and recovery can be done under a single jurisdictional recovery plan. If, on the other hand, one sees terrorism as something outside the all-hazards model, then one must engage in a planning process that is duplicative and runs the risk of being confusing at the time of the event. There is no question that the CEM model is applicable to terrorism.

This having been said, the success of the model has been mixed and there are some problems with it. Because of the way emergency management evolved from the Civil Defense programs, the emphasis has always been on the preparedness and response phases. As was discussed in a previous chapter, the development of the CEM concept created problems for emergency managers who had been primarily tactical and operational planners. Strategic concepts like mitigation were given lip service but were rarely adequately addressed in emergency management programs.

The available data from the National Emergency Management Baseline Capability Assessment (NEMB-CAP) supports this thesis. The study to date has found only 26 percent of the surveyed states conformant for recovery planning, 23 percent conformant with mitigation planning, and 14 percent conformant for continuity planning. This is in stark contrast to the 51 percent conformance for response planning. These figures are not a reflection of the validity of the CEM model but rather suggest that emergency managers are not adequately addressing the strategic concepts inherent in the model.

This failure can be attributed in part to the evolution of the emergency management position discussed in Chapter 3. However, it may also be the result of fundamental misunderstandings about the model itself. Since the model is based on a cycle where the phases flow in a sequential and logical manner, this has been taken by many to suggest that this is how operations progress. One finds, for example, numerous state and local emergency operations plans that are organized by the CEM phases and that attempt to clearly delineate what tasks occur in each phase. Although they do not incorporate the CEM phases, Homeland Security planning documents such as the Universal Task List and Target Capabilities List are organized in a similar fashion around the phases of prevention, protection, response, and recovery. In reality, plans are implemented virtually simultaneously with tasks related to response, continuity, recovery, and even mitigation being implemented at the same time.

This suggests that using the CEM model as the basis for emergency operations planning has limited validity. If, however, one considers the model as a strategic concept, the dynamic changes. The CEM model can be used to denote four interrelated strategies for mitigation, response, recovery, and preparedness that together define the community’s response to crisis. The relationship among these strategies is a product of how the community manages risk.

RISK MANAGEMENT

Risk is managed in four basic ways. The organization can choose to simply avoid a risk by not taking an action that carries the potential for liability. The organization can transfer the risk, usually through the use of insurance. The organization can mitigate the risk through structural or non-structural methods of risk reduction. Finally, the organization can choose to retain the risk, either by self-insuring, ignoring the risk, or developing the capacity to respond to the impacts if the risk occurs. The combination of these four elements will vary from organization to organization depending on risk tolerance, vulnerability, and available resources.

A good starting point for developing a risk management strategy is an insurance review. Even where a community is self-insured, there is usually some reliance on risk transfer through third party insurance. In addition, there are costs associated with disasters that may not have been factored into the original loss estimation. In this age of tight budgets, self-insured organizations tend to view self-insurance as a statement of risk tolerance rather than actually creating cash reserves to cover extraordinary costs. This risk tolerance may be acceptable for day-today emergencies but becomes intolerable in a major disaster where costs become excessive and income streams are severely reduced.

Where insurance coverage exists, the full extent of the coverage is not always understood and many policyholders tend to make assumptions about what is covered and what is not. For example, does the policy cover full replacement of a demolished building or only the cost to the damaged portion? If repair of a damaged structure triggers a mandatory upgrade to an improved building code, is the added cost covered? If a facility is a crime scene and access is prevented for several weeks, is the cost of alternate operating facilities recoverable?

To the emergency manager, the insurance review is necessary for two reasons. First, recoverable expenses are critical to recovery and the restoration of the community to some semblance of normalcy. The major source of community recovery funding is the insurance industry. Second, at some point, insurance requirements and emergency plans will intersect. This means that considering actions from a claims perspective may have a bearing on response issues. For example, the training responders receive in documenting damage could be oriented toward helping to fulfill both the need for initial damage assessment data and for capturing data for later insurance claims. A decision to clear an essential roadway of debris may create issues for homeowners with their insurance company—it is not uncommon for insurance carriers to reimburse the cost of clearing debris caused by the disaster but to refuse coverage for removing debris created during road clearance by the jurisdiction. Decisions to dispose of damaged equipment or to demolish dangerous structures may create future issues during the claims process if the damage has not been fully documented in a manner considered sufficient by the insurance company.

Insurance language can be confusing, as terms may have different meanings to insurance professionals and emergency managers. Everyday terms such as useable, debris, salvage, replace, and recover have very different and specific meanings in the insurance industry. Using such common terms in the wrong context may have an impact on the settlement of a claim. Consequently, an important addition to the emergency planning team is the community risk manager.

There would seem to be a natural alliance between the risk manager and the emergency manager. The risk manager seeks to protect the jurisdiction against preventable losses. The primary tool of the risk manager is the risk assessment, using much the same methodology of hazard identification and risk analysis employed by the emergency manager.

MITIGATION STRATEGY

During the risk analysis, it is possible to identify opportunities that could either eliminate the organization’s vulnerability to a hazard or substantially reduce the impact of the hazard. These measures are referred to as mitigation and are distinguished from preparedness in that they are generally long-term measures focused on reducing or eliminating the impacts of a hazard as opposed to enhancing the capacity to respond. Because it seeks to be proactive, mitigation offers the potential for significant savings both in the elimination or reduction of damages and in the reduction of response capacity. Mitigation can also have an impact on insurance premiums, which are risk based, and can result in significantly lowered costs. For these reasons, James Lee Witt, former Director of FEMA, was frequently quoted as saying that “mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management.”

Yet mitigation plays only a limited role in most communities and is generally applied post-disaster to prevent losses if a similar event should occur. There are several reasons for this. Mitigation is a strategy and, as such, requires consideration from a strategic viewpoint. Most emergency planners have mainly tactical expertise and lack both the skills and the organizational standing to influence strategic decisions. Further, the development of mitigation strategies requires a different set of stakeholders than those involved in the development of emergency plans. Many of these disciplines are foreign to emergency planners and require specialized expertise. Finally, mitigation planning, even more so than emergency planning, requires the involvement of community, political, and popular leadership.

Most jurisdictions have treated mitigation as they have other elements of the emergency management program—they have assigned it to a single department, such as the planning department, developed a document based on a template, and failed to provide any significant funding. The same is true of the federal government. Federal mitigation funding has traditionally been provided post-disaster under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (section 404 of the Stafford Act). This funding is a percentage of the total grants awarded by the federal government under a presidential declaration of disaster. During the Clinton administration, this percentage was increased to a high of 25 percent, but under the revisions to the Stafford Act promulgated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program was limited to 7.5 percent, providing the state has an approved standard mitigation plan. If the state has an enhanced mitigation plan, the president may increase this amount up to 20 percent.

Realizing the post-disaster mitigation is the policy equivalent of locking the barn door after the horse has run away, DMA 2000 established an innovative pre-disaster mitigation program. Although limited in scope (grants are small and awarded competitively), the program acknowledges for the first time that pre-disaster mitigation should be preferred to post-disaster mitigation. Here again, though, government support has been lacking. Under the Bush administration, the program has been cut from a high of $255 million in FY 2005 to $50 million in FY 2006.

Social science research indicates that for many jurisdictions there is very little correlation between objective risk, perceived risk, and mitigation efforts. Researchers found that communities were aware of potential hazards, but for a variety of reasons opted not to take action. Mitigation is never simple and may generate resistance on the basis of the perceived violation of property rights or hindering development. It may also have an impact on those of lower socio-economic status and be perceived as favoring the rich over the poor. There are also examples where communities have adapted to recurring events in such a way that mitigation is of little interest and would be considered disruptive to their society. In addition, the lack of leadership from the federal government, low priority given to mitigation by state and local governments, and absence of clear financial incentives for mitigation creates an environment that is not conducive to mitigation planning.

One key point that emerges from the social science literature is the importance of a “champion” for mitigation. Even where disaster creates a window of opportunity, hazard reduction is unlikely to occur without the involvement of individuals or organizations prepared to push for the adoption of mitigation strategies. This suggests that it is possible for the emergency manager to create the impetus for mitigation.

CASE STUDY: ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO—CONFLICTS IN MITIGATION

St. Charles County, MO holds the record for repetitive claims under the National Flood Insurance Program. The county of 300,000 sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and almost half the county is located in a floodplain (see Case Figure 6.1). The risk of flooding has been exacerbated by farming that reduced the amount of wetlands and by a federal levee program demanded by the farming community. There is also a local attitude that floods are natural and not subject to human intervention.

 

Case Figure 6.1 St. Charles County, MO, flood prone areas—St. Charles County government.

The Midwest Floods of 1993 hit St. Charles hard. Over 2,100 homes were condemned due to flood damage. Following the disaster, St. Charles County agreed to participate in the Missouri Buyout Program, a mitigation plan backed by FEMA to reduce risk by purchasing properties in high-risk zones. From 1993 to 1995, the county used $5.78 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding from FEMA and $8.8 million from the Community Development Block Grant Program to acquire 1,159 properties. The acquisition of these repetitive damage properties prevented losses in 1995 and damage in a 2002 flood was so insignificant that it did not warrant a presidential declaration of disaster, even though other counties in the area suffered significant damage. FEMA rightly points to St. Charles County as a mitigation success story.

However, there is a darker side to the story. Major development in the 1950s had seen the development of three major trailer parks and the construction of inexpensive housing in the main area of flooding. The advent of the National Flood Insurance in 1968 coupled with the county’s unwillingness to strictly enforce its provisions encouraged those with low incomes to take advantage of the cheap housing. Since existing mobile home parks were the only housing allowed to be reconstructed below the 100-year flood mark and still retain insurance coverage, the majority of these residents lived in mobile homes. Attempts in 1986 to make these mobile homes safer by elevating them above the 100-year flood mark were bitterly resisted by both the county and the National Manufactured Housing Federation, as were requests by the residents to relax county zoning ordinances to allow relocation of the mobile home parks.

When the Missouri Buyout Program was implemented, the burden of mitigation fell directly on the poor and disadvantaged. The owners of the mobile home parks were compensated for their land under the program. The renters, however, received nothing, as mobile homes were considered personal property and not real estate. Plans to build a new subdivision of affordable housing collapsed after resistance from local residents. The only option for many was to leave St. Charles. In one group of 2,800 homeless families, 90 percent were estimated to have relocated to other counties.

St. Charles County is an example of the complexity of mitigation. It shows how even well intentioned programs like the National Flood Insurance Program can have unanticipated results. It demonstrates that simply reducing risk is not always sufficient nor is it as easy as it would appear—there are always tradeoffs in any policy decision. Effective mitigation strategy must include not only risk reduction methodology, but also consideration of the effects of implementing that methodology.

The key to developing this impetus is an understanding that mitigation is not simply a technological solution for loss reduction, but is socially structured. This means that disasters are not the product of “Acts of God” outside human control but of the interaction of the hazard and the community’s vulnerability. Like vulnerability, mitigation is influenced by the community. In other words, the decision to mitigate and the strategies selected will be determined by the sociocultural factors of the community. The assumption that one need only provide an effective technical proposal for mitigation to occur is a false one. Even strategies that have been proven effective in other situations may fail to gain the acceptance of a community. Thus, proposed mitigation strategies must be understood within their social context and must be developed in a social environment that assists in their acceptance. In the words of Dr. Kathleen Tierney, “Mitigation strategies typically stand or fall on their political, economic, and sociocultural feasibility—not on their technical feasibility.” (Tierney 1993).

When seeking community support, one invariably runs up against the well-meaning person or organization that insists on the adoption of all potential mitigation measures. While it has been demonstrated that not all mitigation measures will be acceptable, a further limiting factor is the issue of cost-effectiveness. There are those who feel that cost should not be an issue in hazard reduction, but the simple fact is that cost-benefit analysis is an acceptable method of determining the appropriateness of mitigation measures. As was pointed out, if there is no perceived value to the mitigation measure, then it will not be acceptable to the community, particularly when mitigation resources are limited.

Based on the social science research, it becomes apparent that the common approach of developing a mitigation plan in isolation to meet DMA 2000 requirements does little to ensure effective community hazard reduction. One can also begin to draw some conclusions about what will be necessary for successful mitigation:

  • •A champion, or champions, to spearhead the mitigation effort must be identified. While this can be the emergency manager, it is more likely that the emergency manager will serve as a catalyst to identify and motivate community organizations and politicians.
  • •Mitigation measures must be cost-effective and seen as adding value to the community.
  • •Mitigation measures must be acceptable within the sociocultural and socioeconomic norms of the community.
  • •Mitigation measures must be debated and adopted under an open process that stimulates public involvement and acceptance.

The implication of these elements of success is that mitigation planning must be inclusive and broad based. This is supported by 44 Code of Federal Regulations Emergency Management Assistance, the document that contains the rules under which federal disaster assistance programs are administered. 44CFR requires that the planning process provide for public comment, involvement of neighboring communities, businesses and regulatory agencies, and the review and incorporation as appropriate of existing technical reports and studies.

Mitigation strategy is ultimately aimed at reducing or eliminating the potential impacts of hazards. While the Stafford Act addresses natural hazards, it would be imprudent for a jurisdiction to pursue a mitigation strategy that did not include provisions for human-caused hazards as well. Such a multi-hazard strategy is in keeping with the tenets of comprehensive emergency management and allows the community to leverage both Stafford Act and Homeland Security funds under a single comprehensive program of risk reduction.

Policy makers should consider both pre- and post-disaster mitigation strategies. Pre-disaster strategies can be further divided into actions that can be taken immediately at little or no cost and those that can be accomplished over time with anticipated or existing funding. Pre-disaster mitigation does not necessarily have to be structural and programs aimed at reducing non-structural hazards (e.g. earthquake bracing, typhoon clips, etc.) can be relatively inexpensive. Mitigation strategies can also have multiple uses: a public warning system could potentially be used during civic events.

Mitigation strategy should also identify actions that can be implemented following a disaster as part of a holistic recovery strategy to improve community quality of life. Such strategies should be a logical extension of pre-disaster mitigation and include projects that are desirable but either lack funding or the political will to implement.

RECOVERY STRATEGY

Recovery is the transition from disaster response back to an acceptable state of normalcy. It would be wrong to say that recovery returns the community to normal for two reasons: 1) the widespread destruction and social disruption caused by major disasters produce profound changes that prevent the community from fully returning to its pre-disaster condition; and 2) disasters offer opportunities for changes in the community that can create a new “normal.” Like mitigation, recovery planning is an extremely low priority for local governments. Part of the reason for this is the perception that recovery is “the last thing we do” and therefore accorded a lower priority than response planning. Part of it stems from a failure to understand potential recovery issues.

Since recovery is the last phase in the emergency management cycle, it seems strange to consider it before one discusses emergency response. However, recovery is not a single process but a series of complex processes, many occurring simultaneously. Without a strategy to serve as a guide, these processes can lead to conflicting priorities and extreme political and social upheaval. Further, without a well-defined strategy, decisions made in the early phases of response foreclose options for recovery, severely limiting the options available to the community. Finally, the recovery period offers an opportunity to implement components of the mitigation strategy and the two must be closely linked.

Eugene Haas and his colleagues identified four overlapping periods that occur in recovery:

  • •An emergency period that covers the immediate aftermath of the event and is focused on coping with immediate losses
  • •A restoration period that covers from the end of the emergency period to the restoration of major services
  • •A replacement reconstruction period that results in the rebuilding of capital stock and the return of social and economic activities to pre-disaster levels
  • •A developmental reconstruction period that provides for major reconstruction and future growth

Like many of the previous disaster models discussed, these four periods should not be seen as distinct. In actual practice, there is considerable overlap and it is not uncommon for different segments of the community to be in different periods owing to differences in economic resources. Pre-disaster recovery planning can, to a certain extent, shorten the length of these periods and speed recovery.

As one examines the four periods of recovery, it is possible to separate them into short-term and long-term activities. Short-term activities that lead to the restoration of basic services are generally tactical-level activities, such as debris clearance and the repair of basic infrastructure. The focus is on restoration of community services to near-normal levels. A major component of this restoration is the use of federal disaster assistance programs for individual and public assistance. Short-term recovery strategies should be oriented toward a detailed damage assessment (e.g. building inspections, structural assessments of bridges and roads, etc.) and establishing an interface with federal programs.

Long-term recovery, however, is strategic in nature because of its potential impact on the community’s future. Like mitigation, long-term recovery strategy requires community acceptance to be effective. That this acceptance must be obtained before the disaster is obvious when one considers the potential barriers to developing and implementing a strategy post-disaster. In contrast to the altruism found during the response period, the recovery period is characterized by conflicting priorities, concern over perceived inequities in disaster relief and a tendency to establish blame for inadequate response. The overwhelming community emphasis is on a rapid return to normalcy. This means that barriers to quick rebuilding, such as a public process to agree on mitigation methods, are considered unacceptable. Indeed, there is usually a push by the community for a relaxation of building codes and restrictions on development to spur reconstruction, actions counterintuitive to increasing community resilience.

Communities tend to want to replicate pre-disaster conditions, so the focus of recovery tends to be on returning the community to the way things were before. One sees this dynamic at work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When the Bring Back New Orleans Commission released its initial recommendations in January 2006, it recommended a four-month moratorium on rebuilding to determine what neighborhoods would have enough returning residents to warrant rebuilding. There was concern that some areas would be too thinly populated to be sustainable. The recommendations were immediately met by angry protests from citizens, condemnation by groups such as the NAACP, and attempts by permitting officials to subvert the plan by issuing special construction permits to anyone who asked for one. Despite the opportunity to reduce risk in those areas where flooding was the worst, returning residents are demanding a rebuilding of their neighborhoods in hopes of reestablishing the communities that existed prior to the hurricane.

Local government, seeking to avoid criticism for slow recovery, will generally accede to the community’s demands for quick action. The emphasis is on acquiring tools and techniques to quickly restore the status quo and expedite federal payments. The time required to form a recovery task force and to develop long-range strategy is overwhelmed by the rapid pace of reconstruction. An example of this problem is given in the case study involving the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. In this case, a pre-disaster proposal for a new city layout was considered as a blue print for reconstruction but ultimately rejected because of the speed of rebuilding.

The paradox of recovery is that, while the period immediately following the disaster is clearly not the time to begin development of a reconstruction plan, it is the time when the public is prepared to show an interest in recovery and mitigation issues. The first 30 days following a disaster is the critical window of opportunity to establish the mechanism for managing and guiding the recovery. The lesson is clear; recovery strategy development must be done before the disaster if one wishes to take advantage of this window of opportunity.

Effective recovery planning requires four main components:

  • 1.Formation of a broad-based task force that represents the community as a whole
  • 2.Development of a strategy document that represents a community vision and consensus
  • 3.Development of an operational plan to cover short-term recovery
  • 4.Passage of ordinances providing authorities for recovery activities

CASE STUDY: SAN FRANCISCO 1906—MISSED OPPORTUNITIES IN RECOVERY

 

Case Figure 6.2 San Francisco Financial District following the earthquake and fire. Courtesy of the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.

The devastation of the earthquake and fire that occurred in San Francisco on April 18, 1906 was certainly on a massive scale: the area burned by the fire was twice that of Chicago Fire of 1871 and six times that of the Great Fire of London in 1666. Three quarters of the developed area of the City were destroyed along with much of the civic infrastructure. Over half the City’s population of 410,000 was displaced. Property loss was estimated at between $500 million and $1 billion (in 1906 dollars). The massive relief effort that followed the earthquake and fire lasted over three years.

With the city virtually leveled, it was imperative that reconstruction begin immediately. By a strange twist of fate, San Francisco already had a plan for a complete reconstruction of the city, the Burnham Plan. As mayor, James Phelan had attended the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and been very impressed by the concepts of architect James Burnham. Phelan brought Burnham to San Francisco to develop a radical redesign of San Francisco. Based on the design of European capitals, Burnham’s plan envisioned broad boulevards, open spaces, and expansive parks. A grand civic center was to be located at Van Ness and Market Streets and nine broad boulevards would radiate outward, connected by concentric streets. Burnham’s plans were completed just a few days before the earthquake. Now, as chair of the powerful Finance Committee, Phelan pushed for adoption of the Burnham Plan.

The Burnham Plan had several flaws. First, to accomplish the plan would require property owners to sell existing parcels and acquire new ones. This was particularly true in Chinatown, where there was a push to evict the entire Chinese population from prime real estate and relocate them in less desirable parts of town. Secondly, the Burnham Plan did not take into account the economic heart of the city: there was no consideration for the commercial, industrial, and waterfront areas in the plan. Nevertheless, Phelan and his colleagues in the Association for the Improvement and Adornment of San Francisco pushed hard for the adoption of the Burnham Plan.

Arrayed against Phelan and his powerful friends was the tendency of disaster victims to attempt to return as closely as possible to their former situation. As was noted in Chapter 2, disaster victims are resilient and will begin recovery on their own. In most cases, this return to normalcy involves replicating their previous situation. This is why post-disaster mitigation is difficult to implement. The citizens of San Francisco simply were not going to wait until the details of the Burnham Plan could be worked out. Similar issues arose after Hurricane Katrina, where citizens insisted on rebuilding their homes in opposition to a plan to relocate neighborhoods to safer areas.

Phelan and his supporters attempted to pass a state constitutional amendment that would allow the city to acquire land to implement the Burnham Plan by trading property. The amendment was defeated in a statewide election. Opposition also came from the downtown business leaders who would not countenance any delay in rebuilding. The loss of city records, including property titles, meant that implementing the Burnham Plan could take some time. This lengthy delay would have an obvious detrimental effect on business resumption and on the tax base. Ultimately, private property rights won out over public good and the Burnham Plan was shelved.

The Burnham Plan could have transformed the city of San Francisco into a grand city on the order of Paris or Berlin. Given time and political will, it is possible that the details of the plan could have been worked out and the plan implemented. However, in the aftermath of catastrophe, there was simply no time to identify the legal and social implications of the plan and to work out compromises. Further, the plan did not enjoy the full support of the community. It was favored by the wealthy upper class but was deemed impractical by hardheaded businessmen. The Burnham Plan is a reminder that recovery planning, no matter how visionary, must be timely and supported by the community.

In forming the recovery task force, one must confront the issue of governance. Is the task force responsible solely for the purpose of developing the recovery strategy or will it actually guide the process as well? If the latter, what is its relationship to the group handling response? If it is solely for planning, who will guide the recovery effort? The answers to these questions will help to determine the membership of the core group and help to identify additional stakeholders in the planning process.

As has been mentioned, recovery involves multiple processes. In may be beneficial to consider dividing the task force into smaller committees that focus on specific issues, such as:

  • •Social Recovery—issues that affect the community directly, such as the restoration of housing stock, the reopening of schools, resumption of social services, etc.
  • •Infrastructure Recovery—the physical restoration and reconstruction of community infrastructure (e.g. public works, civic buildings, road construction, etc.).
  • •Economic Recovery—restoration of economic vitality by reestablishing businesses, attracting tourism, stimulating investment, etc.
  • •Environmental Recovery—issues related to control of cleanup of hazardous waste, landfill capacity, debris disposal, etc.

The development of a strategic recovery plan presents the opportunity to go beyond the status quo and to seek advantages inherent in a crisis. The Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center has produced a blueprint for what has been termed “holistic recovery,” where the focus is not on a return to pre-disaster conditions but on increasing community sustainability. “Sustainability” in this context means “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Holistic recovery is based on six principles of sustainability:

  • 1.Maintain and, if possible, enhance quality of life
  • 2.Enhance local economic viability
  • 3.Promote social and intergenerational equity
  • 4.Maintain and, if possible, enhance the quality of the environment
  • 5.Incorporate disaster resilience and mitigation into decisions and actions
  • 6.Use a consensus-building, participatory process when making decisions

The six principles of holistic recovery summarize the intent espoused but seldom achieved by emergency planners. In essence, they offer a methodology to not only deal with the immediate consequences of a disaster but to use the disaster as a mechanism to increase resistance to future disasters. They also offer the opportunity to link the recovery and mitigation strategies to overall community strategies, increasing the involvement of community groups and the potential for community acceptance. By emphasizing that recovery and mitigation strategies are congruent with community goals, the emergency manager can demonstrate clearly the value of the strategies.

Once one knows the end result, the intermediate steps are easily derived. To implement the strategy, there may be a need to craft recovery specific legislation to institutionalize the planning process, establish the governance structure, and address specific planning issues. Figure 6.2 is a table of contents for a model ordinance that suggests some of the issues that might be considered. Passing an ordinance validates the work of the recovery task force and codifies the authorities that will be needed during recovery.

 

Figure 6.2 Model Recovery and Reconstruction Ordinance. From Planning for Post-disaster Recovery and Reconstruction, American Planning Association.

  1. 1 Powers and Duties 4. 2 Recovery Task Force 4. 3 Operations and Meetings 4.4 Succession 4. 5 Organization 4. 6 Relation to Emergency Management Organization 5. 1 Recovery Plan Content 5. 2 Coordination of Recovery Plan with FEMA and Other Agencies 5. 3 Recovery Plan Adoption 5. 4 Recovery Plan Implementation 5. 5 Recovery Plan Training and Exercises 5. 6 Recovery Plan Consultation with Citizens 5. 7 Recovery Plan Amendments 5. 8 Recovery Plan Coordination with Related (City. County) Plans 6. 1 Powers and Procedures 6. 2 Post-Disaster Operations 6. 3 Coordination with FEMA and Other Agencies 6. 4 Consultation with Citizens 7. 1 Duration 7. 2 Damage Assessment 7. 3 Development Moratorium 7. 4 Debris Clearance 7. 5 One-Stop Center for Permit Expediting 7. 6 Temporary Use Permits 7. 7 Temporary Repair Permits 7. 8 Deferral of Fees for Reconstruction Permits 7. 9 Nonconforming Buildings and Uses 8. 1 Condemnation and Demolition 8. 2 Notice of Condemnation 8. 3 Request to FEMA to Demolish 8. 4 Historic Building Demolitions Review 10. 1 Safety Element 10. 2 Short-Term Action Program 10. 3 Post-Disaster Actions 10. 4 New Information 11. 1 Functions 11. 2 Review

Short-term recovery is also informed by the strategy. Since long-range recovery goals are known, responders can make decisions consistent with these goals and lay the foundation for later implementation of the full strategy. Thus, the operational recovery annex and the long-range recovery plan become the implementing documents for the recovery strategy.

RESPONSE STRATEGY

If done properly, the hazard analysis develops a summary of the risks facing a community in terms of vulnerabilities and hazards. The mitigation strategy limits this field by either eliminating hazards or reducing their potential impact. The recovery strategy defines the end state—the point at which the community achieves an acceptable state of normalcy. Together these two strategies bracket and inform a third: the strategy that the community will use to respond to the immediate impact of the event, maintain continuity of function, and initiate short-term recovery.

Few communities actually develop a response strategy as opposed to an emergency plan. This is most likely because much response planning is done by rote. That is, communities use templates for emergency plans such as that provided by FEMA’s State and Local Guide 101 or one provided by a consultant or a software program. There are valid reasons for using such an approach—it ensures compliance and conformance with federal guidelines and ensures that all critical areas are addressed. However, many of these planning guides are geared toward initial response and do not consider other plans that might be implemented simultaneously. For example, SLG 101 does not address recovery, continuity of operations, or post-disaster mitigation.

Emergency plans are by nature tactical documents, not strategic ones. They tend to focus on short-term issues related to response rather than on strategy and policy. This is their purpose and the process involved in developing emergency plans can serve to raise issues of strategy and policy. However, the development and agreement on strategy beforehand simplifies the development of the various plans needed to respond to crisis. Divorcing plan development from the strategic planning process results in plans that are disconnected from each other and may lead to conflicts among the plans. It is at the strategic level that interrelationships among plans become most clear.

As has been noted in previous chapters, response, continuity, and recovery do not occur sequentially. Separate plans are implemented simultaneously or within a very short time frame. If these plans are developed in a vacuum, this simultaneous implementation may result in conflicts over management of the crisis and a competition for scarce resources. It is critical, therefore, that concepts for response be worked out prior to beginning to develop plans and that significant policy issues be addressed.

A critical part of response strategy is the development of a governance structure and the fixing of responsibility for various response functions. Response involves the virtually simultaneous implementation of emergency, continuity, and recovery plans. A major strategic decision is whether these plans are coordinated from a single operations center by a single management team or from separate operations centers headed by different managers. If the latter, how will conflicts be resolved? Who is the final arbitration authority? Will there be a single incident action plan? If so, who develops it? Another issue of governance involves the transition of operational control. Immediate response is relatively short-lived and the jurisdiction moves very quickly into sustained operations, focusing on recovery issues. How will this transition be handled? At what point does the central point of coordination move from an emergency operations center to something more long term?

In addition to these types of governance issues, conflicts frequently arise because priorities are not defined. Life safety is always the first priority in response, but as was noted in a previous chapter, one of the qualitative differences between disasters and emergencies is a change in speed of response and in standards of care. Hence, the operational dynamic changes and while life safety is always paramount, there will be decisions made that will adversely impact victims, such as the use of triage for prioritizing treatment to the injured and the imposition of priorities for distribution of limited supplies. It is this changing dynamic that needs to be addressed as the response strategy is being developed. How much compromise is the community willing to tolerate to ensure its own survival?

An example of this dynamic occurred during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. The Marina District, an affluent area built on filled ground, was heavily damaged and suffered significant structural collapse. As a safety measure, authorities evacuated the area and prohibited reentry by the occupants. Plans were made to begin immediate demolition of unsafe structures. From the city’s perspective, the priority was life safety. The occupants, however, were horrified that they could not reenter and salvage their personal possessions before their homes were destroyed. Ultimately, the city authorities yielded to the demands of the community and allowed escorted reentry but for only 15 minutes per occupant. This solution, as would be expected, pleased no one. Identifying this need, developing a reentry strategy, and assigning responsibility for planning and implementation could have minimized this conflict.

The purpose of the response strategy is to articulate a concept for tactical response, to identify potential policy issues that may arise during the course of operations, and to fix responsibility for planning and implementation. One begins this process by determining the functions that will be required in a disaster. Figure 6.3 is a list of functions developed by EMAP that represents the minimum areas that should be addressed in an emergency operations plan. At this stage, details are not important—the planners are seeking to develop a concept for each function and to identify the agencies that will do the detailed planning.

 

Figure 6.3 Components of the Emergency Operations Plan—Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

Direction/control and coordination, Donated goods; Information and planning; Voluntary organizations; Detection and monitoring, Law enforcement; Alert and notification; Fire protection; Warning; Search and rescue, Communications; Public health, medical, and mortuary services, Emergency public information. Agriculture; Resource management, Animal control/management, Evacuation, Food, water and commodities distribution, Mass care, Transportation resources, Sheltering, Energy and utilities services, Needs and damage assessment; Public works and engineering services; and Military support; Hazardous materials

As an example of this process, consider the function of evacuating the community. Evacuation is surprisingly difficult because such operations almost always involve a transfer of responsibility. When a community is evacuated, the evacuees become the concern of the other communities through which they must pass and of the community that will ultimately receive them. Even the evacuation of a single facility will have an impact on the surrounding area. Consequently, if the community’s strategy includes the need to partially or fully evacuate, then a considerable number of policy issues arise from that decision:

  • •Will evacuation be full or partial? Traditionally, evacuation planning was based on natural hazards. The Cold War requirement for evacuation planning under the Crisis Relocation Program was strongly resisted by local governments as unnecessary. However, the potential use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly dirty bomb scenarios, has caused jurisdictions to rethink their strategies.
  • •Will spontaneous evacuation be supported? There are any number of conditions that may cause people to self-evacuate. Such self-evacuation can create significant problems as the control measures and supporting infrastructure that are in place during mandatory evacuations may not be present. On the other hand, deploying these resources may draw scarce resources from other tasks.
  • •Under what conditions will evacuation be mandated? Evacuation is costly and can expose evacuees to considerable risk. It is not a decision to be made lightly. Further, as has been demonstrated in numerous hurricanes along the Gulf Coast and the East Coast, frequent evacuations lead to a certain complacency and unwillingness to evacuate. There is also evidence of unwillingness on the part of officials to order evacuation, even when pre-identified conditions have been met.
  • •What authority does the leadership of the community have to order an evacuation? Can field personnel, such as a fire officer, order evacuation? Is evacuation mandatory and can citizens be forcibly removed? Can the media be restricted from entering the evacuated area?
  • •How will barriers to evacuation be overcome? Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that there are segments of the population that cannot or will not self-evacuate. Many of these were people without the means to do so or people with disabilities that prevented them and their caregivers from leaving. Statistics indicate that this can be a substantial part of the population: the 2000 census indicated that between 21 and 25 percent of the population of New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile described themselves as disabled. In a Kaiser Foundation poll taken in Houston of people evacuated from New Orleans, 22 percent of respondents stated that they were physically unable to leave and a further 23 percent stated that they had to care for someone unable to leave.

Closely associated with evacuation planning is the need for sheltering. Many emergency plans treat sheltering as something that happens almost immediately. In actual practice, it may take several days to inspect, staff, and equip shelters to their full capacity. Congregate shelters are also a short-term measure; the Red Cross expects that they will be maintained for no more than 30 days. They buy time for either the individual or the jurisdiction to find interim housing. Sheltering must therefore be viewed as a continuum ranging from immediate temporary shelters followed by transition to short term housing and eventually leading to permanent housing. A shelter strategy must address issues such as:

  • •What constitutes an acceptable shelter? For example, one jurisdiction designates as official only those shelters that meet ADA requirements but maintains a second list of shelters that do not currently meet the requirements but could be used with some modifications during a disaster.
  • •Will persons with disabilities be housed at all shelters or will there be special shelters established to accommodate special needs? If so, what is the definition of “special needs” and will the shelter accommodate caregivers?
  • •How long are shelters expected to be open? The Red Cross initially had responsibility for long term sheltering but their policy is now to maintain shelters for about 30 days at which point FEMA is expected to assist in the transition to short-term housing.
  • •Will existing buildings be used for sheltering or will camps be established?
  • •How will short-term housing be provided? Will semi-permanent camps be established as was done in San Francisco in 1906 and Kobe, Japan in 1995? Or will victims be removed from the disaster area and housed in hotels, as was done after Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

This discussion so far has considered the emergency operations plan and is on familiar ground for most emergency managers. However, the intent here is to consider strategy and to do that, one must stretch the definition of response to “those actions and activities that occur prior to, during, or in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.” This means that instead of the focus on traditional response functions that characterize emergency management planning, one must ask the question from a broad perspective. For example, planners must take into account Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) that must be met to sustain critical government functions. This means that response strategy must encompass not only the emergency operations plan but Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) as well. Further, it must also consider the short-term recovery planning developed as part of the recovery strategy.

Continuity planning is a new concept to many emergency managers but it has actually been around for a long time. The idea of ensuring continuous government operations dates back to at least 1982 with the issuance of National Security Decision Directive 55 Enduring National Leadership dated September 14, 1982. The most recent iteration, Presidential Decision Directive 67, Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations, dated October 21, 1998, established Continuity of Operations (COOP) as a unifying concept to ensure the continuance of essential government functions. In 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of National Security Coordination was designated as the lead agency for the federal executive branch COOP program. In addition to FEMA providing guidance, each agency was responsible for appointing a senior official to serve as program manager for COOP planning, programming, and budgeting and was expected to have COOP plans in place by October 1999.

In February 2004, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report entitled Continuity Of Operations: Improved Planning Needed to Ensure Delivery of Essential Government Services that severely criticized government agencies’ adherence to the FEMA COOP guidance promulgated in Federal Preparedness Circular 65 Federal Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP). Of 34 agencies surveyed, the GAO found none to be in full compliance with FPC 65. The GAO also faulted FEMA for failing to include criteria for essential functions in its guidance and for failing to review essential functions when assessing COOP plans.

FPC 65 was reissued on June 15, 2004 to meet the GAO’s directive to provide more defined criteria for COOP. As part of these criteria, FPC 65 establishes the requirement for access to a local area network (LAN) and vital files, records, and databases within 12 hours of COOP plan activation. In addition, the COOP plan must provide for sustained operations for up to 30 days until normal business activities can be reconstituted.

In addition to the criteria for a 12-hour RTO and sustained capability for 30 days, FPC 65 identifies eleven elements that are necessary for a viable COOP capability:

  • 1.Plans and procedures
  • 2.Essential functions
  • 3.Delegations of authority
  • 4.Orders of succession
  • 5.Alternate operating facilities
  • 6.Interoperable communications
  • 7.Vital Records and databases
  • 8.Human capital
  • 9.Test, training, and exercises
  • 10.Devolution of control and direction
  • 11.Reconstitution

Many of the elements on the FPC 65 list are already part of the emergency management program and plans. More importantly, COOP aims at preserving the baseline capability necessary for tactical and operational response. Given the level of devastation in recent disasters, one can no longer just assume that government agencies will be able to fulfill their disaster missions in the absence of continuity plans. As continuity plans become more common, they will come to represent a source of competition for resources in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Consequently, continuity issues represent a factor that must be considered in developing a response strategy.

The simultaneous implementation of strategies suggests that, instead of focusing on individual plans, planners should consider plans in a time-based continuum and assess what activities occur immediately, in the short-term, and long-range. Response strategy should work toward blending traditional response with recovery, continuity, and mitigation. This does not mean that all these strategies combine into a single plan. However, it does suggest that there should be a single unifying response strategy and that plans should be expanded beyond the limits of SLG 101 to encompass all immediate and short-term activities.

PREPAREDNESS

The three strategies of mitigation, response, and recovery provide for a continuum of disaster response that defines a beginning point, a desired end state, and a process for linking the two. As these concepts are developed, planners should be gaining an understanding of potential shortcomings that would impede their implementation. In essence, the combined strategies delineate the capacity that will be needed for successful response in accordance with the community’s vision. The preparedness strategy is the mechanism by which the community builds its capacity to respond.

Preparedness strategy focuses on three main components: tactical planning, logistics management, and training. It defines the shortfall between current and desired capabilities for each component and options for eliminating this shortfall.

Tactical planning consists of the plans and procedures necessary to support the strategy. This includes the development of tactical-level plans for emergency response, continuity, recovery, and mitigation, and the supporting plans, operating procedures, checklists, etc. needed to implement them.

Logistics management looks at response from a resources perspective: what will be needed, what is currently on hand, and how will shortfalls be met? Based on the response strategy, it should be possible for planners to derive a list of resources required by the community and the timeframes during which they will be needed. The planners use this list to conduct an assessment of the resources on hand. This resource inventory accomplishes two things: it identifies shortfalls and develops a list or database that can be used to locate resources during response.

Some emergency management offices go to considerable lengths to create massive single lists of disaster resources. However, maintaining a central list can be labor intensive and these types of lists tend to go out of date rapidly. This technique is fairly common, particularly where responsibility for the success of a response operation rests with a single office. However, if one views the responsibility for successful response as an organizational, rather than an individual responsibility, then it is reasonable to approach resource management as an organizational function. This means that responsibility for maintaining inventory lists rests with those elements of the jurisdiction most likely to have a need for them. For example, the department of public works or the corporate engineering department would maintain a list of contractors with heavy lift capacity. Likewise, the department of public health would maintain a list of medical supplies or the names of contractors providing mental health services.

Once resource shortfalls have been identified, the organization needs a strategy for how these resources will be obtained. One possibility is the use of mutual aid, which will be discussed in more detail in a later chapter. A second source is the use of private or non-profit resources. For example, the response strategy may have identified the need for sheltering several thousand people. For most jurisdictions, the Red Cross usually takes on this task, so many of the resources needed for this task will be provided by that organization. The response strategy identified the need for sheltering and set the target population; the preparedness strategy identifies the resources needed and, through discussion with the Red Cross, what will be provided and what must still be located. In addition, the preparedness strategy should now include a component for a detailed shelter planning with the Red Cross and supporting agencies.

Trained personnel are no less a resource than specialized equipment. As was noted in a previous chapter, many communities approach training in a piece-meal fashion rather than considering it in relation to overall strategy. Training should be geared to meeting the demands for capability that are generated by the community’s strategic vision. This helps to define the scope of the required training. Identifying training needs is similar to identifying resource needs: one considers the skills that will be needed to implement the strategies, conducts an inventory of available skills, and develops options for meeting the shortfall. Determining need also requires acknowledging that training is perishable. That is, it must be reinforced or refreshed if skills are to be kept current.

Training, much like response, has different levels that help define the scope of the training required. For most members of the organization, the only requirement is for awareness training that addresses potential risk and what is expected of the member (e.g. ICS 100). There is a smaller subset of trainees who require training on skills needed to accomplish specific functions under the various operational plans. For example, the teams that staff the emergency operations center will require detailed instruction in their assigned functions or a hazardous materials response team will need training on protective equipment. Some of these requirements will be defined by law, some by common sense, and some by operational need. Finally, there is a small group who will need training to provide leadership during a crisis, i.e. branch, unit, and team leaders, incident commanders, EOC directors, etc.

CONCLUSION

As was discussed in a previous chapter, the strategic plan is the mechanism by which the community translates strategy into performance objectives. This translation is accomplished by developing a series of strategies based on the community’s risk and values and the baseline strategic information discussed in Chapter 4. This combination represents the ideal—a vision of how the community would like to build resilience to risks. The strategic planning process ultimately produces a preparedness strategy that articulates the difference between that ideal and the current state of the emergency management program. From this preparedness strategy, one can then derive the performance objectives in the strategic plan. Figure 6.4 diagrams this process.

 

Figure 6.4 Strategic planning model.

The following example illustrates how the process works:

As part of its hazard assessment, a jurisdiction identifies a portion of its population (10,000) that is at risk of being displaced by a potential flood.

Through its mitigation strategy, the jurisdiction determines to reduce the number of residences in the at-risk area, to repair an aging levee, and limit construction in the flood prone area. This is expected to reduce the number of persons at risk from 10,000 to 7,000. It also intends to buyout repetitive damage properties if a flood does occur using federal funding. Its strategy includes modifications to evacuation routes that will reduce the time needed to evacuate 7,000 residents from eight hours to five hours.

In considering recovery strategy, the jurisdiction decides that it needs clearer legislative authority for emergency debris removal, better plans for reentry of residents after evacuation, and estimates that 1,000 citizens will need to be permanently relocated.

As part of its response strategy, the jurisdiction determines that it will need to evacuate and shelter the 7,000 at-risk citizens using a combination of its own shelters and those of an adjoining jurisdiction.

In its preparedness strategy, the jurisdiction determines that it has the capacity to shelter 4,000 citizens and will need to transport 3,000 citizens to the adjacent jurisdiction. It will need to coordinate a sheltering plan with the adjacent jurisdiction. It estimates that it will need interim housing for 3,000 and long-term housing for 1,000. Training will be needed for 1,000 shelter workers and a public awareness campaign will be needed for the new evacuation measures.

In its strategic plan, the jurisdiction identifies the following work elements:

  • •Propose new legislation for emergency debris removal authority
  • •Develop elements of the mitigation plan for evacuation routes and the buyout of destroyed property
  • •Develop a shelter plan and mutual aid agreement with the adjacent jurisdiction
  • •Develop an appendix to the emergency response plan’s shelter annex
  • •Develop an evacuation plan identifying routes and transportation assets
  • •Develop a reentry plan
  • •Develop a public awareness campaign for new evacuation control measures
  • •Conduct training for 1,000 shelter workers in conjunction with the Red Cross

The intent of the process is to develop response concepts that are based on community vulnerabilities to identified hazards and that are consistent with community values. The process considers emergency management in its broadest perspective: a mechanism by which the community manages its risk. To be effective, this mechanism must consider all the dynamics that are taking place during a disaster and not be limited to traditional emergency response planning. It is the interrelationship among the four concepts of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery that makes the CEM model such a powerful strategic tool.

Week 3 Learning Resources

This page contains the Learning Resources for this week. Be sure to scroll down the page to see all of this week’s assigned Learning Resources. To access select media resources, please use the media player below.

Required Resources

Readings

  • Canton, L. G. (2007). Emergency management: Concepts and strategies for effective programs. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Chapter 6, “Developing Strategy”

Chapter 6 DEVELOPING STRATEGY

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

—Sun Tzu

As was noted in the previous chapter, risk assessment is the basis of the emergency management program. Upon completion of a risk assessment, planners should have a fairly complete picture of community vulnerability to potential hazards. Risk assessment also helps to put hazards in perspective, allowing for policy decisions that prioritize the use of scarce resources and focus planning on those events that represent the greatest risk to the community.

Basing emergency management policy on risk would seem to be common sense but the record of government has not been particularly good in this area. Funding for emergency management through the Emergency Management Preparedness Grant has always used a fixed base amount for each state plus a small amount based on population. When funds are looked at on a per capita basis, there is a great inequity in the distribution of funds, with those states with the greatest risk actually receiving less per capita than smaller states. Further, there is no basis for believing that population alone is a reasonable indicator of potential risk.

When one considers the much-trumpeted war on terrorism, one is forced to conclude that this policy is also not based on an accurate assessment of risk. If one looks at terrorism from an actuarial perspective, the mortality rate from terrorism in 2001 was on a par with deaths from drowning (2,978 to 3,247). In contrast, 700,142 Americans died of heart disease that year and the common flu kills about 36,000 a year. The economic impact of September 11 is estimated at $84–92 billion; the cost for Hurricane Katrina is estimated to exceed $200 billion. This is not meant to in anyway diminish the events of September 11 or to suggest that terrorism is not a threat. It merely points out that a community’s risk to terrorism is a product of its vulnerabilities and the risk will vary from community to community, as it does with any hazard. Terrorism is not the principal risk in every jurisdiction in the United States.

Basing emergency management policy on risk may actually require an adjustment for many jurisdictions. Most emergency management programs are the product of the Cold War, with their single focus on national preparedness and additional responsibilities have accrued to them over the years without a basis in local policy. However, if the emergency management program is to be cohesive and consistent with community values and goals, it must be driven by strategies derived from policies based on risk.

A NEW LOOK AT AN OLD MODEL

One of the seminal events in the history of emergency management was the National Governors’ Association study in 1978 that introduced the comprehensive emergency management model. The model recognizes four phases of emergency management:

  • •Mitigation—efforts taken to eliminate or reduce the impacts of hazards
  • •Preparedness—efforts to develop the capacity to respond to disasters
  • •Response—actions taken to deal with the impact of a disaster
  • •Recovery—actions taken to restore the community to normal

 

Figure 6.1 Comprehensive emergency management model.

Since the advent of Homeland Security, there has been a push by law enforcement to add a fifth phase called prevention. The draft changes to NFPA 1600 adds prevention and defines it as “activities to avoid an incident or to stop an emergency from occurring.” It further limits mitigation to “activities taken to reduce the severity or consequences of an emergency.” This type of political hairsplitting serves little purpose as the model has successfully formed the basis of emergency planning for almost 30 years. The definition of mitigation as “efforts taken to eliminate or reduce the impacts of hazards” would seem to encompass both elements.

From the policy perspective, if terrorism is viewed as just one of multitude of hazards that must be considered by a jurisdiction during risk assessment, then it integrates well into an all-hazards model. One assesses the risk, identifying potential targets and possible scenarios. One mitigates the risk through programs such as intelligence assessment (non-structural mitigation) or through target hardening (structural mitigation). One prepares for potential scenarios by developing plans, training personnel, and acquiring equipment. One responds if the event occurs and recovery can be done under a single jurisdictional recovery plan. If, on the other hand, one sees terrorism as something outside the all-hazards model, then one must engage in a planning process that is duplicative and runs the risk of being confusing at the time of the event. There is no question that the CEM model is applicable to terrorism.

This having been said, the success of the model has been mixed and there are some problems with it. Because of the way emergency management evolved from the Civil Defense programs, the emphasis has always been on the preparedness and response phases. As was discussed in a previous chapter, the development of the CEM concept created problems for emergency managers who had been primarily tactical and operational planners. Strategic concepts like mitigation were given lip service but were rarely adequately addressed in emergency management programs.

The available data from the National Emergency Management Baseline Capability Assessment (NEMB-CAP) supports this thesis. The study to date has found only 26 percent of the surveyed states conformant for recovery planning, 23 percent conformant with mitigation planning, and 14 percent conformant for continuity planning. This is in stark contrast to the 51 percent conformance for response planning. These figures are not a reflection of the validity of the CEM model but rather suggest that emergency managers are not adequately addressing the strategic concepts inherent in the model.

This failure can be attributed in part to the evolution of the emergency management position discussed in Chapter 3. However, it may also be the result of fundamental misunderstandings about the model itself. Since the model is based on a cycle where the phases flow in a sequential and logical manner, this has been taken by many to suggest that this is how operations progress. One finds, for example, numerous state and local emergency operations plans that are organized by the CEM phases and that attempt to clearly delineate what tasks occur in each phase. Although they do not incorporate the CEM phases, Homeland Security planning documents such as the Universal Task List and Target Capabilities List are organized in a similar fashion around the phases of prevention, protection, response, and recovery. In reality, plans are implemented virtually simultaneously with tasks related to response, continuity, recovery, and even mitigation being implemented at the same time.

This suggests that using the CEM model as the basis for emergency operations planning has limited validity. If, however, one considers the model as a strategic concept, the dynamic changes. The CEM model can be used to denote four interrelated strategies for mitigation, response, recovery, and preparedness that together define the community’s response to crisis. The relationship among these strategies is a product of how the community manages risk.

RISK MANAGEMENT

Risk is managed in four basic ways. The organization can choose to simply avoid a risk by not taking an action that carries the potential for liability. The organization can transfer the risk, usually through the use of insurance. The organization can mitigate the risk through structural or non-structural methods of risk reduction. Finally, the organization can choose to retain the risk, either by self-insuring, ignoring the risk, or developing the capacity to respond to the impacts if the risk occurs. The combination of these four elements will vary from organization to organization depending on risk tolerance, vulnerability, and available resources.

A good starting point for developing a risk management strategy is an insurance review. Even where a community is self-insured, there is usually some reliance on risk transfer through third party insurance. In addition, there are costs associated with disasters that may not have been factored into the original loss estimation. In this age of tight budgets, self-insured organizations tend to view self-insurance as a statement of risk tolerance rather than actually creating cash reserves to cover extraordinary costs. This risk tolerance may be acceptable for day-today emergencies but becomes intolerable in a major disaster where costs become excessive and income streams are severely reduced.

Where insurance coverage exists, the full extent of the coverage is not always understood and many policyholders tend to make assumptions about what is covered and what is not. For example, does the policy cover full replacement of a demolished building or only the cost to the damaged portion? If repair of a damaged structure triggers a mandatory upgrade to an improved building code, is the added cost covered? If a facility is a crime scene and access is prevented for several weeks, is the cost of alternate operating facilities recoverable?

To the emergency manager, the insurance review is necessary for two reasons. First, recoverable expenses are critical to recovery and the restoration of the community to some semblance of normalcy. The major source of community recovery funding is the insurance industry. Second, at some point, insurance requirements and emergency plans will intersect. This means that considering actions from a claims perspective may have a bearing on response issues. For example, the training responders receive in documenting damage could be oriented toward helping to fulfill both the need for initial damage assessment data and for capturing data for later insurance claims. A decision to clear an essential roadway of debris may create issues for homeowners with their insurance company—it is not uncommon for insurance carriers to reimburse the cost of clearing debris caused by the disaster but to refuse coverage for removing debris created during road clearance by the jurisdiction. Decisions to dispose of damaged equipment or to demolish dangerous structures may create future issues during the claims process if the damage has not been fully documented in a manner considered sufficient by the insurance company.

Insurance language can be confusing, as terms may have different meanings to insurance professionals and emergency managers. Everyday terms such as useable, debris, salvage, replace, and recover have very different and specific meanings in the insurance industry. Using such common terms in the wrong context may have an impact on the settlement of a claim. Consequently, an important addition to the emergency planning team is the community risk manager.

There would seem to be a natural alliance between the risk manager and the emergency manager. The risk manager seeks to protect the jurisdiction against preventable losses. The primary tool of the risk manager is the risk assessment, using much the same methodology of hazard identification and risk analysis employed by the emergency manager.

MITIGATION STRATEGY

During the risk analysis, it is possible to identify opportunities that could either eliminate the organization’s vulnerability to a hazard or substantially reduce the impact of the hazard. These measures are referred to as mitigation and are distinguished from preparedness in that they are generally long-term measures focused on reducing or eliminating the impacts of a hazard as opposed to enhancing the capacity to respond. Because it seeks to be proactive, mitigation offers the potential for significant savings both in the elimination or reduction of damages and in the reduction of response capacity. Mitigation can also have an impact on insurance premiums, which are risk based, and can result in significantly lowered costs. For these reasons, James Lee Witt, former Director of FEMA, was frequently quoted as saying that “mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management.”

Yet mitigation plays only a limited role in most communities and is generally applied post-disaster to prevent losses if a similar event should occur. There are several reasons for this. Mitigation is a strategy and, as such, requires consideration from a strategic viewpoint. Most emergency planners have mainly tactical expertise and lack both the skills and the organizational standing to influence strategic decisions. Further, the development of mitigation strategies requires a different set of stakeholders than those involved in the development of emergency plans. Many of these disciplines are foreign to emergency planners and require specialized expertise. Finally, mitigation planning, even more so than emergency planning, requires the involvement of community, political, and popular leadership.

Most jurisdictions have treated mitigation as they have other elements of the emergency management program—they have assigned it to a single department, such as the planning department, developed a document based on a template, and failed to provide any significant funding. The same is true of the federal government. Federal mitigation funding has traditionally been provided post-disaster under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (section 404 of the Stafford Act). This funding is a percentage of the total grants awarded by the federal government under a presidential declaration of disaster. During the Clinton administration, this percentage was increased to a high of 25 percent, but under the revisions to the Stafford Act promulgated by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program was limited to 7.5 percent, providing the state has an approved standard mitigation plan. If the state has an enhanced mitigation plan, the president may increase this amount up to 20 percent.

Realizing the post-disaster mitigation is the policy equivalent of locking the barn door after the horse has run away, DMA 2000 established an innovative pre-disaster mitigation program. Although limited in scope (grants are small and awarded competitively), the program acknowledges for the first time that pre-disaster mitigation should be preferred to post-disaster mitigation. Here again, though, government support has been lacking. Under the Bush administration, the program has been cut from a high of $255 million in FY 2005 to $50 million in FY 2006.

Social science research indicates that for many jurisdictions there is very little correlation between objective risk, perceived risk, and mitigation efforts. Researchers found that communities were aware of potential hazards, but for a variety of reasons opted not to take action. Mitigation is never simple and may generate resistance on the basis of the perceived violation of property rights or hindering development. It may also have an impact on those of lower socio-economic status and be perceived as favoring the rich over the poor. There are also examples where communities have adapted to recurring events in such a way that mitigation is of little interest and would be considered disruptive to their society. In addition, the lack of leadership from the federal government, low priority given to mitigation by state and local governments, and absence of clear financial incentives for mitigation creates an environment that is not conducive to mitigation planning.

One key point that emerges from the social science literature is the importance of a “champion” for mitigation. Even where disaster creates a window of opportunity, hazard reduction is unlikely to occur without the involvement of individuals or organizations prepared to push for the adoption of mitigation strategies. This suggests that it is possible for the emergency manager to create the impetus for mitigation.

CASE STUDY: ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO—CONFLICTS IN MITIGATION

St. Charles County, MO holds the record for repetitive claims under the National Flood Insurance Program. The county of 300,000 sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and almost half the county is located in a floodplain (see Case Figure 6.1). The risk of flooding has been exacerbated by farming that reduced the amount of wetlands and by a federal levee program demanded by the farming community. There is also a local attitude that floods are natural and not subject to human intervention.

 

Case Figure 6.1 St. Charles County, MO, flood prone areas—St. Charles County government.

The Midwest Floods of 1993 hit St. Charles hard. Over 2,100 homes were condemned due to flood damage. Following the disaster, St. Charles County agreed to participate in the Missouri Buyout Program, a mitigation plan backed by FEMA to reduce risk by purchasing properties in high-risk zones. From 1993 to 1995, the county used $5.78 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding from FEMA and $8.8 million from the Community Development Block Grant Program to acquire 1,159 properties. The acquisition of these repetitive damage properties prevented losses in 1995 and damage in a 2002 flood was so insignificant that it did not warrant a presidential declaration of disaster, even though other counties in the area suffered significant damage. FEMA rightly points to St. Charles County as a mitigation success story.

However, there is a darker side to the story. Major development in the 1950s had seen the development of three major trailer parks and the construction of inexpensive housing in the main area of flooding. The advent of the National Flood Insurance in 1968 coupled with the county’s unwillingness to strictly enforce its provisions encouraged those with low incomes to take advantage of the cheap housing. Since existing mobile home parks were the only housing allowed to be reconstructed below the 100-year flood mark and still retain insurance coverage, the majority of these residents lived in mobile homes. Attempts in 1986 to make these mobile homes safer by elevating them above the 100-year flood mark were bitterly resisted by both the county and the National Manufactured Housing Federation, as were requests by the residents to relax county zoning ordinances to allow relocation of the mobile home parks.

When the Missouri Buyout Program was implemented, the burden of mitigation fell directly on the poor and disadvantaged. The owners of the mobile home parks were compensated for their land under the program. The renters, however, received nothing, as mobile homes were considered personal property and not real estate. Plans to build a new subdivision of affordable housing collapsed after resistance from local residents. The only option for many was to leave St. Charles. In one group of 2,800 homeless families, 90 percent were estimated to have relocated to other counties.

St. Charles County is an example of the complexity of mitigation. It shows how even well intentioned programs like the National Flood Insurance Program can have unanticipated results. It demonstrates that simply reducing risk is not always sufficient nor is it as easy as it would appear—there are always tradeoffs in any policy decision. Effective mitigation strategy must include not only risk reduction methodology, but also consideration of the effects of implementing that methodology.

The key to developing this impetus is an understanding that mitigation is not simply a technological solution for loss reduction, but is socially structured. This means that disasters are not the product of “Acts of God” outside human control but of the interaction of the hazard and the community’s vulnerability. Like vulnerability, mitigation is influenced by the community. In other words, the decision to mitigate and the strategies selected will be determined by the sociocultural factors of the community. The assumption that one need only provide an effective technical proposal for mitigation to occur is a false one. Even strategies that have been proven effective in other situations may fail to gain the acceptance of a community. Thus, proposed mitigation strategies must be understood within their social context and must be developed in a social environment that assists in their acceptance. In the words of Dr. Kathleen Tierney, “Mitigation strategies typically stand or fall on their political, economic, and sociocultural feasibility—not on their technical feasibility.” (Tierney 1993).

When seeking community support, one invariably runs up against the well-meaning person or organization that insists on the adoption of all potential mitigation measures. While it has been demonstrated that not all mitigation measures will be acceptable, a further limiting factor is the issue of cost-effectiveness. There are those who feel that cost should not be an issue in hazard reduction, but the simple fact is that cost-benefit analysis is an acceptable method of determining the appropriateness of mitigation measures. As was pointed out, if there is no perceived value to the mitigation measure, then it will not be acceptable to the community, particularly when mitigation resources are limited.

Based on the social science research, it becomes apparent that the common approach of developing a mitigation plan in isolation to meet DMA 2000 requirements does little to ensure effective community hazard reduction. One can also begin to draw some conclusions about what will be necessary for successful mitigation:

  • •A champion, or champions, to spearhead the mitigation effort must be identified. While this can be the emergency manager, it is more likely that the emergency manager will serve as a catalyst to identify and motivate community organizations and politicians.
  • •Mitigation measures must be cost-effective and seen as adding value to the community.
  • •Mitigation measures must be acceptable within the sociocultural and socioeconomic norms of the community.
  • •Mitigation measures must be debated and adopted under an open process that stimulates public involvement and acceptance.

The implication of these elements of success is that mitigation planning must be inclusive and broad based. This is supported by 44 Code of Federal Regulations Emergency Management Assistance, the document that contains the rules under which federal disaster assistance programs are administered. 44CFR requires that the planning process provide for public comment, involvement of neighboring communities, businesses and regulatory agencies, and the review and incorporation as appropriate of existing technical reports and studies.

Mitigation strategy is ultimately aimed at reducing or eliminating the potential impacts of hazards. While the Stafford Act addresses natural hazards, it would be imprudent for a jurisdiction to pursue a mitigation strategy that did not include provisions for human-caused hazards as well. Such a multi-hazard strategy is in keeping with the tenets of comprehensive emergency management and allows the community to leverage both Stafford Act and Homeland Security funds under a single comprehensive program of risk reduction.

Policy makers should consider both pre- and post-disaster mitigation strategies. Pre-disaster strategies can be further divided into actions that can be taken immediately at little or no cost and those that can be accomplished over time with anticipated or existing funding. Pre-disaster mitigation does not necessarily have to be structural and programs aimed at reducing non-structural hazards (e.g. earthquake bracing, typhoon clips, etc.) can be relatively inexpensive. Mitigation strategies can also have multiple uses: a public warning system could potentially be used during civic events.

Mitigation strategy should also identify actions that can be implemented following a disaster as part of a holistic recovery strategy to improve community quality of life. Such strategies should be a logical extension of pre-disaster mitigation and include projects that are desirable but either lack funding or the political will to implement.

RECOVERY STRATEGY

Recovery is the transition from disaster response back to an acceptable state of normalcy. It would be wrong to say that recovery returns the community to normal for two reasons: 1) the widespread destruction and social disruption caused by major disasters produce profound changes that prevent the community from fully returning to its pre-disaster condition; and 2) disasters offer opportunities for changes in the community that can create a new “normal.” Like mitigation, recovery planning is an extremely low priority for local governments. Part of the reason for this is the perception that recovery is “the last thing we do” and therefore accorded a lower priority than response planning. Part of it stems from a failure to understand potential recovery issues.

Since recovery is the last phase in the emergency management cycle, it seems strange to consider it before one discusses emergency response. However, recovery is not a single process but a series of complex processes, many occurring simultaneously. Without a strategy to serve as a guide, these processes can lead to conflicting priorities and extreme political and social upheaval. Further, without a well-defined strategy, decisions made in the early phases of response foreclose options for recovery, severely limiting the options available to the community. Finally, the recovery period offers an opportunity to implement components of the mitigation strategy and the two must be closely linked.

Eugene Haas and his colleagues identified four overlapping periods that occur in recovery:

  • •An emergency period that covers the immediate aftermath of the event and is focused on coping with immediate losses
  • •A restoration period that covers from the end of the emergency period to the restoration of major services
  • •A replacement reconstruction period that results in the rebuilding of capital stock and the return of social and economic activities to pre-disaster levels
  • •A developmental reconstruction period that provides for major reconstruction and future growth

Like many of the previous disaster models discussed, these four periods should not be seen as distinct. In actual practice, there is considerable overlap and it is not uncommon for different segments of the community to be in different periods owing to differences in economic resources. Pre-disaster recovery planning can, to a certain extent, shorten the length of these periods and speed recovery.

As one examines the four periods of recovery, it is possible to separate them into short-term and long-term activities. Short-term activities that lead to the restoration of basic services are generally tactical-level activities, such as debris clearance and the repair of basic infrastructure. The focus is on restoration of community services to near-normal levels. A major component of this restoration is the use of federal disaster assistance programs for individual and public assistance. Short-term recovery strategies should be oriented toward a detailed damage assessment (e.g. building inspections, structural assessments of bridges and roads, etc.) and establishing an interface with federal programs.

Long-term recovery, however, is strategic in nature because of its potential impact on the community’s future. Like mitigation, long-term recovery strategy requires community acceptance to be effective. That this acceptance must be obtained before the disaster is obvious when one considers the potential barriers to developing and implementing a strategy post-disaster. In contrast to the altruism found during the response period, the recovery period is characterized by conflicting priorities, concern over perceived inequities in disaster relief and a tendency to establish blame for inadequate response. The overwhelming community emphasis is on a rapid return to normalcy. This means that barriers to quick rebuilding, such as a public process to agree on mitigation methods, are considered unacceptable. Indeed, there is usually a push by the community for a relaxation of building codes and restrictions on development to spur reconstruction, actions counterintuitive to increasing community resilience.

Communities tend to want to replicate pre-disaster conditions, so the focus of recovery tends to be on returning the community to the way things were before. One sees this dynamic at work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When the Bring Back New Orleans Commission released its initial recommendations in January 2006, it recommended a four-month moratorium on rebuilding to determine what neighborhoods would have enough returning residents to warrant rebuilding. There was concern that some areas would be too thinly populated to be sustainable. The recommendations were immediately met by angry protests from citizens, condemnation by groups such as the NAACP, and attempts by permitting officials to subvert the plan by issuing special construction permits to anyone who asked for one. Despite the opportunity to reduce risk in those areas where flooding was the worst, returning residents are demanding a rebuilding of their neighborhoods in hopes of reestablishing the communities that existed prior to the hurricane.

Local government, seeking to avoid criticism for slow recovery, will generally accede to the community’s demands for quick action. The emphasis is on acquiring tools and techniques to quickly restore the status quo and expedite federal payments. The time required to form a recovery task force and to develop long-range strategy is overwhelmed by the rapid pace of reconstruction. An example of this problem is given in the case study involving the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. In this case, a pre-disaster proposal for a new city layout was considered as a blue print for reconstruction but ultimately rejected because of the speed of rebuilding.

The paradox of recovery is that, while the period immediately following the disaster is clearly not the time to begin development of a reconstruction plan, it is the time when the public is prepared to show an interest in recovery and mitigation issues. The first 30 days following a disaster is the critical window of opportunity to establish the mechanism for managing and guiding the recovery. The lesson is clear; recovery strategy development must be done before the disaster if one wishes to take advantage of this window of opportunity.

Effective recovery planning requires four main components:

  • 1.Formation of a broad-based task force that represents the community as a whole
  • 2.Development of a strategy document that represents a community vision and consensus
  • 3.Development of an operational plan to cover short-term recovery
  • 4.Passage of ordinances providing authorities for recovery activities

CASE STUDY: SAN FRANCISCO 1906—MISSED OPPORTUNITIES IN RECOVERY

 

Case Figure 6.2 San Francisco Financial District following the earthquake and fire. Courtesy of the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.

The devastation of the earthquake and fire that occurred in San Francisco on April 18, 1906 was certainly on a massive scale: the area burned by the fire was twice that of Chicago Fire of 1871 and six times that of the Great Fire of London in 1666. Three quarters of the developed area of the City were destroyed along with much of the civic infrastructure. Over half the City’s population of 410,000 was displaced. Property loss was estimated at between $500 million and $1 billion (in 1906 dollars). The massive relief effort that followed the earthquake and fire lasted over three years.

With the city virtually leveled, it was imperative that reconstruction begin immediately. By a strange twist of fate, San Francisco already had a plan for a complete reconstruction of the city, the Burnham Plan. As mayor, James Phelan had attended the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and been very impressed by the concepts of architect James Burnham. Phelan brought Burnham to San Francisco to develop a radical redesign of San Francisco. Based on the design of European capitals, Burnham’s plan envisioned broad boulevards, open spaces, and expansive parks. A grand civic center was to be located at Van Ness and Market Streets and nine broad boulevards would radiate outward, connected by concentric streets. Burnham’s plans were completed just a few days before the earthquake. Now, as chair of the powerful Finance Committee, Phelan pushed for adoption of the Burnham Plan.

The Burnham Plan had several flaws. First, to accomplish the plan would require property owners to sell existing parcels and acquire new ones. This was particularly true in Chinatown, where there was a push to evict the entire Chinese population from prime real estate and relocate them in less desirable parts of town. Secondly, the Burnham Plan did not take into account the economic heart of the city: there was no consideration for the commercial, industrial, and waterfront areas in the plan. Nevertheless, Phelan and his colleagues in the Association for the Improvement and Adornment of San Francisco pushed hard for the adoption of the Burnham Plan.

Arrayed against Phelan and his powerful friends was the tendency of disaster victims to attempt to return as closely as possible to their former situation. As was noted in Chapter 2, disaster victims are resilient and will begin recovery on their own. In most cases, this return to normalcy involves replicating their previous situation. This is why post-disaster mitigation is difficult to implement. The citizens of San Francisco simply were not going to wait until the details of the Burnham Plan could be worked out. Similar issues arose after Hurricane Katrina, where citizens insisted on rebuilding their homes in opposition to a plan to relocate neighborhoods to safer areas.

Phelan and his supporters attempted to pass a state constitutional amendment that would allow the city to acquire land to implement the Burnham Plan by trading property. The amendment was defeated in a statewide election. Opposition also came from the downtown business leaders who would not countenance any delay in rebuilding. The loss of city records, including property titles, meant that implementing the Burnham Plan could take some time. This lengthy delay would have an obvious detrimental effect on business resumption and on the tax base. Ultimately, private property rights won out over public good and the Burnham Plan was shelved.

The Burnham Plan could have transformed the city of San Francisco into a grand city on the order of Paris or Berlin. Given time and political will, it is possible that the details of the plan could have been worked out and the plan implemented. However, in the aftermath of catastrophe, there was simply no time to identify the legal and social implications of the plan and to work out compromises. Further, the plan did not enjoy the full support of the community. It was favored by the wealthy upper class but was deemed impractical by hardheaded businessmen. The Burnham Plan is a reminder that recovery planning, no matter how visionary, must be timely and supported by the community.

In forming the recovery task force, one must confront the issue of governance. Is the task force responsible solely for the purpose of developing the recovery strategy or will it actually guide the process as well? If the latter, what is its relationship to the group handling response? If it is solely for planning, who will guide the recovery effort? The answers to these questions will help to determine the membership of the core group and help to identify additional stakeholders in the planning process.

As has been mentioned, recovery involves multiple processes. In may be beneficial to consider dividing the task force into smaller committees that focus on specific issues, such as:

  • •Social Recovery—issues that affect the community directly, such as the restoration of housing stock, the reopening of schools, resumption of social services, etc.
  • •Infrastructure Recovery—the physical restoration and reconstruction of community infrastructure (e.g. public works, civic buildings, road construction, etc.).
  • •Economic Recovery—restoration of economic vitality by reestablishing businesses, attracting tourism, stimulating investment, etc.
  • •Environmental Recovery—issues related to control of cleanup of hazardous waste, landfill capacity, debris disposal, etc.

The development of a strategic recovery plan presents the opportunity to go beyond the status quo and to seek advantages inherent in a crisis. The Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center has produced a blueprint for what has been termed “holistic recovery,” where the focus is not on a return to pre-disaster conditions but on increasing community sustainability. “Sustainability” in this context means “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Holistic recovery is based on six principles of sustainability:

  • 1.Maintain and, if possible, enhance quality of life
  • 2.Enhance local economic viability
  • 3.Promote social and intergenerational equity
  • 4.Maintain and, if possible, enhance the quality of the environment
  • 5.Incorporate disaster resilience and mitigation into decisions and actions
  • 6.Use a consensus-building, participatory process when making decisions

The six principles of holistic recovery summarize the intent espoused but seldom achieved by emergency planners. In essence, they offer a methodology to not only deal with the immediate consequences of a disaster but to use the disaster as a mechanism to increase resistance to future disasters. They also offer the opportunity to link the recovery and mitigation strategies to overall community strategies, increasing the involvement of community groups and the potential for community acceptance. By emphasizing that recovery and mitigation strategies are congruent with community goals, the emergency manager can demonstrate clearly the value of the strategies.

Once one knows the end result, the intermediate steps are easily derived. To implement the strategy, there may be a need to craft recovery specific legislation to institutionalize the planning process, establish the governance structure, and address specific planning issues. Figure 6.2 is a table of contents for a model ordinance that suggests some of the issues that might be considered. Passing an ordinance validates the work of the recovery task force and codifies the authorities that will be needed during recovery.

 

Figure 6.2 Model Recovery and Reconstruction Ordinance. From Planning for Post-disaster Recovery and Reconstruction, American Planning Association.

  1. 1 Powers and Duties 4. 2 Recovery Task Force 4. 3 Operations and Meetings 4.4 Succession 4. 5 Organization 4. 6 Relation to Emergency Management Organization 5. 1 Recovery Plan Content 5. 2 Coordination of Recovery Plan with FEMA and Other Agencies 5. 3 Recovery Plan Adoption 5. 4 Recovery Plan Implementation 5. 5 Recovery Plan Training and Exercises 5. 6 Recovery Plan Consultation with Citizens 5. 7 Recovery Plan Amendments 5. 8 Recovery Plan Coordination with Related (City. County) Plans 6. 1 Powers and Procedures 6. 2 Post-Disaster Operations 6. 3 Coordination with FEMA and Other Agencies 6. 4 Consultation with Citizens 7. 1 Duration 7. 2 Damage Assessment 7. 3 Development Moratorium 7. 4 Debris Clearance 7. 5 One-Stop Center for Permit Expediting 7. 6 Temporary Use Permits 7. 7 Temporary Repair Permits 7. 8 Deferral of Fees for Reconstruction Permits 7. 9 Nonconforming Buildings and Uses 8. 1 Condemnation and Demolition 8. 2 Notice of Condemnation 8. 3 Request to FEMA to Demolish 8. 4 Historic Building Demolitions Review 10. 1 Safety Element 10. 2 Short-Term Action Program 10. 3 Post-Disaster Actions 10. 4 New Information 11. 1 Functions 11. 2 Review

Short-term recovery is also informed by the strategy. Since long-range recovery goals are known, responders can make decisions consistent with these goals and lay the foundation for later implementation of the full strategy. Thus, the operational recovery annex and the long-range recovery plan become the implementing documents for the recovery strategy.

RESPONSE STRATEGY

If done properly, the hazard analysis develops a summary of the risks facing a community in terms of vulnerabilities and hazards. The mitigation strategy limits this field by either eliminating hazards or reducing their potential impact. The recovery strategy defines the end state—the point at which the community achieves an acceptable state of normalcy. Together these two strategies bracket and inform a third: the strategy that the community will use to respond to the immediate impact of the event, maintain continuity of function, and initiate short-term recovery.

Few communities actually develop a response strategy as opposed to an emergency plan. This is most likely because much response planning is done by rote. That is, communities use templates for emergency plans such as that provided by FEMA’s State and Local Guide 101 or one provided by a consultant or a software program. There are valid reasons for using such an approach—it ensures compliance and conformance with federal guidelines and ensures that all critical areas are addressed. However, many of these planning guides are geared toward initial response and do not consider other plans that might be implemented simultaneously. For example, SLG 101 does not address recovery, continuity of operations, or post-disaster mitigation.

Emergency plans are by nature tactical documents, not strategic ones. They tend to focus on short-term issues related to response rather than on strategy and policy. This is their purpose and the process involved in developing emergency plans can serve to raise issues of strategy and policy. However, the development and agreement on strategy beforehand simplifies the development of the various plans needed to respond to crisis. Divorcing plan development from the strategic planning process results in plans that are disconnected from each other and may lead to conflicts among the plans. It is at the strategic level that interrelationships among plans become most clear.

As has been noted in previous chapters, response, continuity, and recovery do not occur sequentially. Separate plans are implemented simultaneously or within a very short time frame. If these plans are developed in a vacuum, this simultaneous implementation may result in conflicts over management of the crisis and a competition for scarce resources. It is critical, therefore, that concepts for response be worked out prior to beginning to develop plans and that significant policy issues be addressed.

A critical part of response strategy is the development of a governance structure and the fixing of responsibility for various response functions. Response involves the virtually simultaneous implementation of emergency, continuity, and recovery plans. A major strategic decision is whether these plans are coordinated from a single operations center by a single management team or from separate operations centers headed by different managers. If the latter, how will conflicts be resolved? Who is the final arbitration authority? Will there be a single incident action plan? If so, who develops it? Another issue of governance involves the transition of operational control. Immediate response is relatively short-lived and the jurisdiction moves very quickly into sustained operations, focusing on recovery issues. How will this transition be handled? At what point does the central point of coordination move from an emergency operations center to something more long term?

In addition to these types of governance issues, conflicts frequently arise because priorities are not defined. Life safety is always the first priority in response, but as was noted in a previous chapter, one of the qualitative differences between disasters and emergencies is a change in speed of response and in standards of care. Hence, the operational dynamic changes and while life safety is always paramount, there will be decisions made that will adversely impact victims, such as the use of triage for prioritizing treatment to the injured and the imposition of priorities for distribution of limited supplies. It is this changing dynamic that needs to be addressed as the response strategy is being developed. How much compromise is the community willing to tolerate to ensure its own survival?

An example of this dynamic occurred during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco. The Marina District, an affluent area built on filled ground, was heavily damaged and suffered significant structural collapse. As a safety measure, authorities evacuated the area and prohibited reentry by the occupants. Plans were made to begin immediate demolition of unsafe structures. From the city’s perspective, the priority was life safety. The occupants, however, were horrified that they could not reenter and salvage their personal possessions before their homes were destroyed. Ultimately, the city authorities yielded to the demands of the community and allowed escorted reentry but for only 15 minutes per occupant. This solution, as would be expected, pleased no one. Identifying this need, developing a reentry strategy, and assigning responsibility for planning and implementation could have minimized this conflict.

The purpose of the response strategy is to articulate a concept for tactical response, to identify potential policy issues that may arise during the course of operations, and to fix responsibility for planning and implementation. One begins this process by determining the functions that will be required in a disaster. Figure 6.3 is a list of functions developed by EMAP that represents the minimum areas that should be addressed in an emergency operations plan. At this stage, details are not important—the planners are seeking to develop a concept for each function and to identify the agencies that will do the detailed planning.

 

Figure 6.3 Components of the Emergency Operations Plan—Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

Direction/control and coordination, Donated goods; Information and planning; Voluntary organizations; Detection and monitoring, Law enforcement; Alert and notification; Fire protection; Warning; Search and rescue, Communications; Public health, medical, and mortuary services, Emergency public information. Agriculture; Resource management, Animal control/management, Evacuation, Food, water and commodities distribution, Mass care, Transportation resources, Sheltering, Energy and utilities services, Needs and damage assessment; Public works and engineering services; and Military support; Hazardous materials

As an example of this process, consider the function of evacuating the community. Evacuation is surprisingly difficult because such operations almost always involve a transfer of responsibility. When a community is evacuated, the evacuees become the concern of the other communities through which they must pass and of the community that will ultimately receive them. Even the evacuation of a single facility will have an impact on the surrounding area. Consequently, if the community’s strategy includes the need to partially or fully evacuate, then a considerable number of policy issues arise from that decision:

  • •Will evacuation be full or partial? Traditionally, evacuation planning was based on natural hazards. The Cold War requirement for evacuation planning under the Crisis Relocation Program was strongly resisted by local governments as unnecessary. However, the potential use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly dirty bomb scenarios, has caused jurisdictions to rethink their strategies.
  • •Will spontaneous evacuation be supported? There are any number of conditions that may cause people to self-evacuate. Such self-evacuation can create significant problems as the control measures and supporting infrastructure that are in place during mandatory evacuations may not be present. On the other hand, deploying these resources may draw scarce resources from other tasks.
  • •Under what conditions will evacuation be mandated? Evacuation is costly and can expose evacuees to considerable risk. It is not a decision to be made lightly. Further, as has been demonstrated in numerous hurricanes along the Gulf Coast and the East Coast, frequent evacuations lead to a certain complacency and unwillingness to evacuate. There is also evidence of unwillingness on the part of officials to order evacuation, even when pre-identified conditions have been met.
  • •What authority does the leadership of the community have to order an evacuation? Can field personnel, such as a fire officer, order evacuation? Is evacuation mandatory and can citizens be forcibly removed? Can the media be restricted from entering the evacuated area?
  • •How will barriers to evacuation be overcome? Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that there are segments of the population that cannot or will not self-evacuate. Many of these were people without the means to do so or people with disabilities that prevented them and their caregivers from leaving. Statistics indicate that this can be a substantial part of the population: the 2000 census indicated that between 21 and 25 percent of the population of New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile described themselves as disabled. In a Kaiser Foundation poll taken in Houston of people evacuated from New Orleans, 22 percent of respondents stated that they were physically unable to leave and a further 23 percent stated that they had to care for someone unable to leave.

Closely associated with evacuation planning is the need for sheltering. Many emergency plans treat sheltering as something that happens almost immediately. In actual practice, it may take several days to inspect, staff, and equip shelters to their full capacity. Congregate shelters are also a short-term measure; the Red Cross expects that they will be maintained for no more than 30 days. They buy time for either the individual or the jurisdiction to find interim housing. Sheltering must therefore be viewed as a continuum ranging from immediate temporary shelters followed by transition to short term housing and eventually leading to permanent housing. A shelter strategy must address issues such as:

  • •What constitutes an acceptable shelter? For example, one jurisdiction designates as official only those shelters that meet ADA requirements but maintains a second list of shelters that do not currently meet the requirements but could be used with some modifications during a disaster.
  • •Will persons with disabilities be housed at all shelters or will there be special shelters established to accommodate special needs? If so, what is the definition of “special needs” and will the shelter accommodate caregivers?
  • •How long are shelters expected to be open? The Red Cross initially had responsibility for long term sheltering but their policy is now to maintain shelters for about 30 days at which point FEMA is expected to assist in the transition to short-term housing.
  • •Will existing buildings be used for sheltering or will camps be established?
  • •How will short-term housing be provided? Will semi-permanent camps be established as was done in San Francisco in 1906 and Kobe, Japan in 1995? Or will victims be removed from the disaster area and housed in hotels, as was done after Hurricane Katrina in 2005?

This discussion so far has considered the emergency operations plan and is on familiar ground for most emergency managers. However, the intent here is to consider strategy and to do that, one must stretch the definition of response to “those actions and activities that occur prior to, during, or in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.” This means that instead of the focus on traditional response functions that characterize emergency management planning, one must ask the question from a broad perspective. For example, planners must take into account Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) that must be met to sustain critical government functions. This means that response strategy must encompass not only the emergency operations plan but Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) as well. Further, it must also consider the short-term recovery planning developed as part of the recovery strategy.

Continuity planning is a new concept to many emergency managers but it has actually been around for a long time. The idea of ensuring continuous government operations dates back to at least 1982 with the issuance of National Security Decision Directive 55 Enduring National Leadership dated September 14, 1982. The most recent iteration, Presidential Decision Directive 67, Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations, dated October 21, 1998, established Continuity of Operations (COOP) as a unifying concept to ensure the continuance of essential government functions. In 2003, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of National Security Coordination was designated as the lead agency for the federal executive branch COOP program. In addition to FEMA providing guidance, each agency was responsible for appointing a senior official to serve as program manager for COOP planning, programming, and budgeting and was expected to have COOP plans in place by October 1999.

In February 2004, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report entitled Continuity Of Operations: Improved Planning Needed to Ensure Delivery of Essential Government Services that severely criticized government agencies’ adherence to the FEMA COOP guidance promulgated in Federal Preparedness Circular 65 Federal Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP). Of 34 agencies surveyed, the GAO found none to be in full compliance with FPC 65. The GAO also faulted FEMA for failing to include criteria for essential functions in its guidance and for failing to review essential functions when assessing COOP plans.

FPC 65 was reissued on June 15, 2004 to meet the GAO’s directive to provide more defined criteria for COOP. As part of these criteria, FPC 65 establishes the requirement for access to a local area network (LAN) and vital files, records, and databases within 12 hours of COOP plan activation. In addition, the COOP plan must provide for sustained operations for up to 30 days until normal business activities can be reconstituted.

In addition to the criteria for a 12-hour RTO and sustained capability for 30 days, FPC 65 identifies eleven elements that are necessary for a viable COOP capability:

  • 1.Plans and procedures
  • 2.Essential functions
  • 3.Delegations of authority
  • 4.Orders of succession
  • 5.Alternate operating facilities
  • 6.Interoperable communications
  • 7.Vital Records and databases
  • 8.Human capital
  • 9.Test, training, and exercises
  • 10.Devolution of control and direction
  • 11.Reconstitution

Many of the elements on the FPC 65 list are already part of the emergency management program and plans. More importantly, COOP aims at preserving the baseline capability necessary for tactical and operational response. Given the level of devastation in recent disasters, one can no longer just assume that government agencies will be able to fulfill their disaster missions in the absence of continuity plans. As continuity plans become more common, they will come to represent a source of competition for resources in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Consequently, continuity issues represent a factor that must be considered in developing a response strategy.

The simultaneous implementation of strategies suggests that, instead of focusing on individual plans, planners should consider plans in a time-based continuum and assess what activities occur immediately, in the short-term, and long-range. Response strategy should work toward blending traditional response with recovery, continuity, and mitigation. This does not mean that all these strategies combine into a single plan. However, it does suggest that there should be a single unifying response strategy and that plans should be expanded beyond the limits of SLG 101 to encompass all immediate and short-term activities.

PREPAREDNESS

The three strategies of mitigation, response, and recovery provide for a continuum of disaster response that defines a beginning point, a desired end state, and a process for linking the two. As these concepts are developed, planners should be gaining an understanding of potential shortcomings that would impede their implementation. In essence, the combined strategies delineate the capacity that will be needed for successful response in accordance with the community’s vision. The preparedness strategy is the mechanism by which the community builds its capacity to respond.

Preparedness strategy focuses on three main components: tactical planning, logistics management, and training. It defines the shortfall between current and desired capabilities for each component and options for eliminating this shortfall.

Tactical planning consists of the plans and procedures necessary to support the strategy. This includes the development of tactical-level plans for emergency response, continuity, recovery, and mitigation, and the supporting plans, operating procedures, checklists, etc. needed to implement them.

Logistics management looks at response from a resources perspective: what will be needed, what is currently on hand, and how will shortfalls be met? Based on the response strategy, it should be possible for planners to derive a list of resources required by the community and the timeframes during which they will be needed. The planners use this list to conduct an assessment of the resources on hand. This resource inventory accomplishes two things: it identifies shortfalls and develops a list or database that can be used to locate resources during response.

Some emergency management offices go to considerable lengths to create massive single lists of disaster resources. However, maintaining a central list can be labor intensive and these types of lists tend to go out of date rapidly. This technique is fairly common, particularly where responsibility for the success of a response operation rests with a single office. However, if one views the responsibility for successful response as an organizational, rather than an individual responsibility, then it is reasonable to approach resource management as an organizational function. This means that responsibility for maintaining inventory lists rests with those elements of the jurisdiction most likely to have a need for them. For example, the department of public works or the corporate engineering department would maintain a list of contractors with heavy lift capacity. Likewise, the department of public health would maintain a list of medical supplies or the names of contractors providing mental health services.

Once resource shortfalls have been identified, the organization needs a strategy for how these resources will be obtained. One possibility is the use of mutual aid, which will be discussed in more detail in a later chapter. A second source is the use of private or non-profit resources. For example, the response strategy may have identified the need for sheltering several thousand people. For most jurisdictions, the Red Cross usually takes on this task, so many of the resources needed for this task will be provided by that organization. The response strategy identified the need for sheltering and set the target population; the preparedness strategy identifies the resources needed and, through discussion with the Red Cross, what will be provided and what must still be located. In addition, the preparedness strategy should now include a component for a detailed shelter planning with the Red Cross and supporting agencies.

Trained personnel are no less a resource than specialized equipment. As was noted in a previous chapter, many communities approach training in a piece-meal fashion rather than considering it in relation to overall strategy. Training should be geared to meeting the demands for capability that are generated by the community’s strategic vision. This helps to define the scope of the required training. Identifying training needs is similar to identifying resource needs: one considers the skills that will be needed to implement the strategies, conducts an inventory of available skills, and develops options for meeting the shortfall. Determining need also requires acknowledging that training is perishable. That is, it must be reinforced or refreshed if skills are to be kept current.

Training, much like response, has different levels that help define the scope of the training required. For most members of the organization, the only requirement is for awareness training that addresses potential risk and what is expected of the member (e.g. ICS 100). There is a smaller subset of trainees who require training on skills needed to accomplish specific functions under the various operational plans. For example, the teams that staff the emergency operations center will require detailed instruction in their assigned functions or a hazardous materials response team will need training on protective equipment. Some of these requirements will be defined by law, some by common sense, and some by operational need. Finally, there is a small group who will need training to provide leadership during a crisis, i.e. branch, unit, and team leaders, incident commanders, EOC directors, etc.

CONCLUSION

As was discussed in a previous chapter, the strategic plan is the mechanism by which the community translates strategy into performance objectives. This translation is accomplished by developing a series of strategies based on the community’s risk and values and the baseline strategic information discussed in Chapter 4. This combination represents the ideal—a vision of how the community would like to build resilience to risks. The strategic planning process ultimately produces a preparedness strategy that articulates the difference between that ideal and the current state of the emergency management program. From this preparedness strategy, one can then derive the performance objectives in the strategic plan. Figure 6.4 diagrams this process.

 

Figure 6.4 Strategic planning model.

The following example illustrates how the process works:

As part of its hazard assessment, a jurisdiction identifies a portion of its population (10,000) that is at risk of being displaced by a potential flood.

Through its mitigation strategy, the jurisdiction determines to reduce the number of residences in the at-risk area, to repair an aging levee, and limit construction in the flood prone area. This is expected to reduce the number of persons at risk from 10,000 to 7,000. It also intends to buyout repetitive damage properties if a flood does occur using federal funding. Its strategy includes modifications to evacuation routes that will reduce the time needed to evacuate 7,000 residents from eight hours to five hours.

In considering recovery strategy, the jurisdiction decides that it needs clearer legislative authority for emergency debris removal, better plans for reentry of residents after evacuation, and estimates that 1,000 citizens will need to be permanently relocated.

As part of its response strategy, the jurisdiction determines that it will need to evacuate and shelter the 7,000 at-risk citizens using a combination of its own shelters and those of an adjoining jurisdiction.

In its preparedness strategy, the jurisdiction determines that it has the capacity to shelter 4,000 citizens and will need to transport 3,000 citizens to the adjacent jurisdiction. It will need to coordinate a sheltering plan with the adjacent jurisdiction. It estimates that it will need interim housing for 3,000 and long-term housing for 1,000. Training will be needed for 1,000 shelter workers and a public awareness campaign will be needed for the new evacuation measures.

In its strategic plan, the jurisdiction identifies the following work elements:

  • •Propose new legislation for emergency debris removal authority
  • •Develop elements of the mitigation plan for evacuation routes and the buyout of destroyed property
  • •Develop a shelter plan and mutual aid agreement with the adjacent jurisdiction
  • •Develop an appendix to the emergency response plan’s shelter annex
  • •Develop an evacuation plan identifying routes and transportation assets
  • •Develop a reentry plan
  • •Develop a public awareness campaign for new evacuation control measures
  • •Conduct training for 1,000 shelter workers in conjunction with the Red Cross

The intent of the process is to develop response concepts that are based on community vulnerabilities to identified hazards and that are consistent with community values. The process considers emergency management in its broadest perspective: a mechanism by which the community manages its risk. To be effective, this mechanism must consider all the dynamics that are taking place during a disaster and not be limited to traditional emergency response planning. It is the interrelationship among the four concepts of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery that makes the CEM model such a powerful strategic tool.

 

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