Catastrophic Post-disaster Long-term Recovery Planning: A Capacity and Needs Assessment of the Oregon Coast
Pearce, Jennifer E.
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Pearce, Jennifer E.
Experts say that the Oregon coast has a 10-20% chance of facing a region wide catastrophic Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami in the next 50 years. Coastal cities will be severely affected physically, economically and socially. Research indicates that communities can recover more easily if they identify ahead of time strategic priorities for how they will rebuild, restore, improve and grow in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster. However, currently there is no plan for how the Oregon coast will recover from a Cascadia event. In order to identify what opportunities and challenges coastal communities currently face in planning for catastrophic post-disaster long-term recovery a capacity and needs assessment was conducted of the thirtytwo incorporated cities along the coast. Findings indicated that staff time is stretched; funding, scientific data, disaster expertise and local knowledge about post-disaster long-term recovery planning and integrated emergency management are limited. In addition some indicated that using partnership can be challenging but all communities used partnerships to achieve their goals. The assessment also revealed several opportunities that can be built upon to assist communities in building their capacity to develop catastrophic post-disaster long-term recovery plans. First, coastal communities have similar concerns and will face similar issues after a catastrophic event and therefore have a vested interest in working with one another. Second, communities are prioritizing disaster planning related activities and are increasingly seeing the importance of planning ahead for a catastrophic disaster. Lastly, communities already have existing relationships within the community, between communities, and at all levels of government. Over 65% indicated an interest in networking with regional groups to assist them in planning for catastrophic post-disaster long-term recovery planning. In order to facilitate this interest and the need to increase local capacity to plan for catastrophic events, the recommendations outline integrated emergency management activities in the public, private sectors and at all levels of government. This integrated approach will increase the capacity of local jurisdictions, regional areas and the state to plan for a catastrophic event by increasing information exchange, knowledge about emergency planning, standardizing procedures and make efficient use of resources statewide.