The committee identifies three key features of resilient communities. First, a resilient community is able to assess and minimize potential threats. Second, a resilient community uses its social and physical infrastructures and lifeline systems effectively to communicate and coordinate activities to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Third, a resilient community has the capacity to adapt and learn from change and adversity—its own and those of others.
Capacity to Assess and Minimize Potential Threats
A resilient community has the capacity to understand the benefits of dam and levee infrastructure and the ability to assess, anticipate, and minimize potential threats over the short and long terms while retaining its basic structures and functions. Resilient communities are able to assess and manage risks, are generally well informed of threats, are clear about the roles and responsibilities of individuals and organizations in the community with respect to risk, and maintain safety programs and—in this case—water management programs in ways that strengthen the community’s ability to mitigate potential infrastructure failures.
Many solutions may be available to community members and stakeholders to minimize the effects of floods, including risk reduction and mitigation, financial planning, and insurance. Without a clear understanding of the limitations of flood mitigation infrastructure, community members and stakeholders are likely to be ill-prepared for emergencies that might place lives and livelihoods at risk. When a community fails to appreciate its exposure to floods and their consequences, there may be little support for investment in the maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure, such as dams and levees.
When there is limited availability of dam and levee flood hazard and consequence information, as will be discussed in Chapter 3, it is difficult or impossible for communities and stakeholders to identify vulnerable regions, people, or institutions. Many, therefore, are unaware of the community’s exposure to physical (casualties and damage) and social (economic, psychosocial, sociodemographic, and political) risks (e.g., see Lindell et al., 2006, for a description the social impacts of disaster). They may have inadequate means of identifying risk scenarios or quantifying their risk, and have little reason to consider risk in hazard mitigation or emergency planning. Uninformed community members and stakeholders may not fully appreciate the benefits or limits of protection offered by dams and levees, nor will they adequately understand the commitment required to maintain the benefits over the long term.
Understanding personal, financial, and other types of risk associated with the variety of potential dam and levee failure scenarios is a starting point for enhancing community