Lessons on Resilience and Recovery from 2017's Worst Disasters

Dissecting successful disaster response in places like Houston and Mexico City could help California prepare for the inevitable.
February 27, 2018, 6am PST | Elana Eden
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At the VerdeXchange 2018 Conference in Downtown Los Angeles, the chief resilience officers of Mexico City and Los Angeles joined city officials from Houston and San Francisco to share hard-won lessons on disaster recovery and urban resilience.

"There are tensions between the recovery process and what it means to transform the city to a more resilient city," explained Mexico City Chief Resiliency Officer Dr. Arnoldo Kramer. After a disaster like the earthquake that struck the city in September 2017, "there is a high demand for an expedited rebuilding process … However, we want to integrate this rebuilding into a long-term planning and thinking process."

As California gears up for a catastrophic earthquake of its own, San Francisco is working to lay the groundwork for a smooth economic recovery, with plans to minimize displacement and explore new insurance practices for vulnerable assets.

A common theme on the panel was the importance of active communication and collaboration among and within utilities, agencies, and communities year-round. During Hurricane Harvey, "our biggest asset was our people," Houston Public Works operations manager Sidney Bomer said.

"Comprehensive resilience is more than just about structures—it's about community and people," agreed San Francisco CAO Naomi Kelly.

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Published on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in The Planning Report
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