As stewards of community assets the potential benefits of being resilient to hazards and disasters are attractive from governmental, economic, social, and environmental points of view. Although consensus generally exists on the goals for strengthening resilience, making the case for investing in resilience programs, in individual initiatives or projects, and in strengthening weak infrastructure is very challenging, especially in the context of demand for competing resources. Particularly during times of economic hardship, competing demand for many societally relevant resources (education, health, and social services) can be a major barrier to making progress in building resilience in communities. As a prerequisite for making the case, advocates are required to demonstrate that the potential benefits of being resilient to hazards and disasters make conceptual sense. However, such efforts also have to show clearly that community investments in resilience will yield significant and measurable short-and long-term benefits that balance or exceed the costs. This kind of cost-benefit analysis is critical for sustained commitment to increasing resilience, given the rising level of competition for scarce resources at local, state, and federal levels (Rose et al., 2007).
Furthermore, increasing resilience is tied in important ways to economic recovery after a disaster. Specifically, resilience measures can encourage efficient use of existing resources, and thereby lead to as rapid a recovery as possible. Some factors that have been shown to have achieved these ends include rapid business relocation (because of the existence of excess office space), use of inventories and stockpiles, and substitution of inputs or suppliers (Rose and Blomberg, 2010).
One approach that communities can use as they embark on a process of improving resilience is to develop multiyear plans or programs that include compelling initiatives or projects. These projects may include improving weak or underfunded community infrastructure such as schools, clinics, and hospitals, and the services which constitute any community. Involving and empowering individuals and families in developing these programs are important because of the ultimate need for individuals to take a share of responsibility in building resilience. Beyond the essential cost-benefit analysis, the value of each initiative or project also rests on the basis of its life-safety, economic, social, public health, and environmental significance. This kind of valuation can assist community leaders with prioritizing investments, decision making, and developing a schedule for implementing their resilience-building strategies.
Resilience investments challenge traditional approaches to “cost-benefit” analysis because communities have many different kinds of assets which are valued differently. Communities have very-high-value assets that are “essential” to keep operating—for example, hospitals, power plants, water and sewage plants, and transportation and communication networks—that usually have a tangible dollar value attached to them, and the costs of disruptions in these services can usually be directly calculated. The social, cultural, and environmental assets of a community also have high “value” but the value is