described in cultural and life-quality terms and is more difficult to quantify in financial terms. Such assets include museums, natural landscapes or areas, protected environmental zones, historical buildings, and a health infrastructure that supports prevention and health maintenance throughout the population. Thus the total value of a community’s assets—both the high-value structural assets and those with high social, cultural, and/or environmental value— necessitates qualitative and quantitative inputs into a decision-making framework for disaster resilience. Such decision making is going to be difficult for community leaders as they try to address the value of multiple community assets in economic, social, cultural, and environmental terms. Access to reliable data is vital in order to support these kinds of decisions. This chapter identifies the data needed and an approach for valuing assets, planning, programming, and investment decision making for resilience. Specifically, the chapter addresses (1) the challenge of decision making for community leaders in developing their priorities in the context of their risk management findings and conclusions (see also Chapter 2); and (2) the scale and scope of the threat and potential losses from disasters. The ways in which communities might be able to develop or adapt measures of their progress toward resilience are developed in Chapter 4.


High-value assets of a community are those for which continued operation is essential and urgent for the entire community (e.g., water and power utilities, fuel systems, transportation facilities and systems, communication systems, first responder operations centers, and hospitals). These interdependent, high-value assets drive the need for holistic thinking, risk management (Chapter 2), priority setting, and investment timing.

Although substantial investments in some communities are made for contingency preparations to secure essential community services and operations during disasters, the scale of a disaster can nonetheless overwhelm the capacity of the system and its operators to cope, leading to a failure in one or more parts of the system as occurred, for example, with essential utilities in coastal Louisiana during and after hurricane Katrina (NRC, 2011). Proven techniques such as systemwide analyses and scenario planning offer insights for decision makers to see resilience improvement needs and weigh their investment priorities.

Other high-value assets of a community may include its economic foundation (e.g., local industry or business), and its social, cultural, environmental, and educational assets. These may include traditional ethnic neighborhoods, religious centers, parks and preserves, wildlife habitats, art centers and architectural icons, town squares, and schools or other educational institutions. These assets are held dear and are highly valued as distinguishing

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