attributes by the community. Although it is difficult to measure their value in purely monetary terms, their loss may significantly degrade the total ambiance or qualify of life of a community. Although such losses may at first be devastating, the investment priority judgments of community leaders will consider the promise and possibilities embedded in the ingenuity and self-reliance of citizens (see Box 3.1).
Establishing ownership of a community’s assets is also important. Asset owners in a community will vary and include those from public utilities, local businesses and industries, faith-based communities, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and individual citizens. Owners are primarily responsible for their property and for making appropriate steps including investments in mitigation measures—structural and nonstructural (see Chapter 2)—to prepare and plan for hazards and risks. Community resilience planning and investment programming set goals, strategies, and metrics for the community and guide owners in how best to prioritize and time their investments. However, resilience is also the outcome of interconnected systems (Chapter 1). Decisions about the prioritization and the level of investment require consideration of both quantitative data and qualitative value assessments the community is key in this regard. The next section examines the urgency of the need to consider the scale and scope of disasters and disaster losses as a means to motivate community efforts to identify and prioritize the full extent of a community’s assets.
Decentralization of Community Assets: One Means to Forge a Greater Sense of Community Resilience
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the public school system in New Orleans was centralized, and the schools were operated largely through a unified school district and primarily served one community function—to educate the city’s children. With the destruction of many essential functions including the schools and school system in New Orleans as a result of Katrina, some members of the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and local citizens revisited together the “value” of their schools in the context of the larger neighborhood communities that the schools serve. What emerged was a design for new schools that encompassed a “systems” approach where schools were designed and built to serve multiple community purposes—with facilities to support cultural and social events and community health through fitness centers in gymnasiums. Investments in hardening the school structures to withstand the hazards present in the area have focused not only on protecting students in the event of a disaster, but also on having the schools capable of serving as centers for shelter of the neighborhood community in case of a crisis. These planned investments by the “owners” and stakeholders of this educational community asset— essentially a blend of private, nonprofit, and community members—have increased the scope of the asset as well as its overall community value.
Source: NRC (2011); Steven Bingler, personal communication, January 20, 2011.