capacity to respond to a disaster is overwhelmed, its very survival depends on how recovery is conducted. If resources are delayed or curtailed during the critical recovery phase of a disaster, it is possible that states, local communities, businesses, and neighborhoods may be unable to rebuild in a resilient way (or not at all) and even greater costs will result over the long-term.


Recognizing that community resilience is advanced by a variety of policies at the federal, state, and local levels, combined with corporate policies and practices, it is important to ask what policies might improve resilience. What policies are absent and badly needed? What new policies should be adopted at each level of government to continue the improvement in the resilience of U.S. communities? Federal policies to strengthen the resilience of communities may be broad or narrow, short term or long term. Because resilience grows over the long term through the application of principles and policies that guide local decisions, the most fruitful policies will be those that acknowledge the broad, long-term needs of communities. Although identification of specific resilience policy gaps is essential to advancing the nation’s resilience, an a la carte approach to resilience policy, in the absence of an overall national strategy, may result in contradictory policies or gaps. Strong communication and coordination among agencies and stakeholders will help ensure effective actions.

The nature of resilience requires some flexibility and adaptability because the patterns of risk, development, and culture vary so widely among communities (see also Chapters 3 and 5). Consideration of this need for flexibility is important for policymakers pursuing mechanisms to enhance the resilience of communities. The fluid and progressive nature of seeking a resilient community does not lend itself to laws or policies mandating resilience as a perfect condition of a community. Any federal, state, or local policies that attempt to mandate resilience would imply that resilience is a perfectly definable condition, which it is not. Community resilience is highly desirable, but broadly complex, and would be extremely difficult to codify in a single comprehensive law.

Rather, governments at all levels have to formulate their own visions of resilience and take the steps in all of their processes to advance resilience through all of its components, forms, and functions, and seek to infuse the principles of resilience into all routine functions of the government. Some ways in which this might be done is the topic of the next chapter.

Currently, gaps in policies and programs exist among federal agencies for all parts of the resilience process—including disaster preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation, and adaptation, as well as research, planning, and community assistance. Although some of these gaps are the result of the legislative authorization within which agencies are directed to operate, the roles

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