New Orleans’ Recovery Following Hurricane Katrina: Observations on Local Catastrophe Recovery Management
Laurie A. Johnson
Consultant and International Collaborative Researcher Research Center for Disaster Reduction Systems, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Japan, 2550 Gough Street #6, San Francisco, California 94123, USA
Few local governments in the U.S. have faced the difficult task of managing catastrophic disaster recovery and there are equally few training guides geared toward improving local government’s recovery management capacity. Our limited “toolkit”for local recovery management mostly reflects the learning from more moderate disasters. This paper reports on New Orleans’ experiences in managing recovery from a truly catastrophic disaster. In particular, it describes two efforts: the 5-month Unified New Orleans Plan process, initiated in September 2006, and the city’s Office of Recovery Management (now Office of Recovery Development and Administration), established in December 2006. It analyzes New Orleans’ use of seven strategic recovery management practices that are proposed to enhance local management capacity and effectiveness following a disastrous event. Given the scale, complexity and multiple agencies involved in New Orleans recovery, this analysis is by no means exhaustive. It does, however, illustrate some of the areas where New Orleans’ recovery management efforts have been effective as well as areas that could be strengthened.