Two keynote addresses were provided by Richard Reed, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security at the White House, and Admiral Thad Allen, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton and former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Three panel discussions followed the keynote addresses: the first addressed the topic of developing a culture of resilience, the second built upon the first and addressed how to translate the concept of resilience into action, and the third panel provided federal agency perspectives about resilience in light of Superstorm Sandy which occurred just one month prior to the November 30, 2012 event. Miles O’Brien, science correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, moderated the three panel discussions including questions from the audience. Biographical sketches for the keynote speakers, panelists, and moderator are provided in Appendix B, while a list of audience participants is provided in Appendix C.
Resilience as a National Imperative
Richard Reed opened his keynote address with the question: How do we foster and enhance disaster resilience? He suggested that the November 30 event is the type of national conversation that needs to take place, in part because the key to enhancing resilience in our nation will not be a one-size-fits-all plan for all communities. Resilience will need to move beyond being seen as a federal endeavor, Reed noted, and become a national endeavor that involves individuals, families, communities, nonprofit sectors, academia, and all levels of government. Reed defined resilience as the ability to withstand challenges, adapt rapidly to changing conditions, and recover rapidly from adverse events, and indicated that developing and sustaining this culture of resilience over time will require that resilience really becomes a national imperative (Figure 2-1).
The nature of the impacts of disasters is changing in our country as are the ways in which we respond to them. Reed noted that Superstorm Sandy was an example of a well-orchestrated and aggressive response effort at all levels. Nearly a month after the storm struck, the situation had progressed from one of emergency response to a long-term recovery effort. He cited other examples of the changing nature of the impacts of disasters by referring to the year 2011 which was itself a record-breaking year with nearly 100 presidentially declared disasters. Fourteen of those events exceeded $1 billion each. The cost implications are significant, he said, when comparing the large cost of responding to disasters relative to what can be lower, front-end costs of investing in disaster mitigation and building resilience.
President Obama signed a presidential policy directive (PPD) on national preparedness (Box 2-1) which outlines his vision for strengthening the security and resilience of our country through systematic preparation against various kinds of threats, such as pandemics, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.
Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8): National Preparedness
This directive aims to strengthen the security and resilience of the United States through systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the nation. PPD-8 outlines preparedness as a shared responsibility among all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and individuals. In addition to drawing together the collective capacities and activities of the federal government in building preparedness, the directive takes an integrated, “all-of-nation,” capabilities-based approach. The directive goes on to outline the need for direct federal engagement in developing a National Preparedness Goal, in outlining key capabilities needed to build and sustain disaster resilience, and in determining whether those investments in preparedness and building resilience are correctly targeted. The directive also sets forth the need for clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities in developing national preparedness among the various agencies of the federal government.
Reed indicated that the Executive Branch of the government expects that responses to national disasters will be through comprehensive, aggressive, and well-coordinated approaches. This is elaborated in the three main principles of PPD-8: creating an all-nation response, building key capabilities to build and sustain resilience, and determining whether those investments are correctly targeted. The all-nation response is aimed at enhancing integration across all levels of government (federal, state, local, tribal) and all stakeholder groups (nonprofit, private sector, individuals, families, communities) to produce closer collaboration and better coordination for prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. The goal is to incorporate national resilience as an organizing principle in which first responders during a disaster are family, neighbors, and community members who assist one another.
The second concept in the policy directive of building key capabilities to confront any challenges is akin to having a toolbox of capabilities that can be placed in different configurations to solve different problems. Reed described this toolbox by using the analogy of Lego® pieces (Box 2-2). The speaker emphasized the importance of having a set of common, simple capabilities that could be adapted by anyone to a particular disaster situation.
Adaptable and Interchangeable Disaster Capabilities: The Lego® Analogy
Key capabilities in responding to a disaster can be envisioned in the same way that a person might approach a box of Legos®, Reed suggested. For example, a box of Legos® might be used to create a dinosaur by one person; using those same pieces, another person could build a truck. In taking this analogy to a modern case, Reed discussed the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January 2009. Upon takeoff from LaGuardia airport, the plane struck a flock of geese, and the plane lost power. The pilot could not reach any nearby airports and had to ditch the plane in the Hudson River. The skill exhibited by the pilot in the landing and the effectiveness of the crew in fulfilling their responsibilities were evidenced by the fact that all 155 occupants of the airplane evacuated safely onto the plane wings on the water. However, Reed noted, there were no plans in existence for exactly how to rescue all of those people from the wings of a plane in the middle of the river. Nonetheless, the core capabilities for that rescue existed and were swiftly implemented by local authorities and local boat pilots so that a potentially catastrophic event turned into a completely successful rescue effort with no loss of life.
Additional sources: NTSB (2010).
The third principle refers to determining whether and how key investments in prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation are appropriately targeted. This last principle has been a challenge, and Reed posed the following questions: How do we know our efforts have been effective and that we are better prepared today? What assessments are needed to determine whether we have been effective? He emphasized that a challenge lies in being able to effectively use resources, to think in creative ways and not be constrained by previous thinking and approaches, and to leverage inherent resources including those in the nonprofit realm. An example is the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where capabilities were leveraged from the oil industry, federal government, academic community, nongovernmental organizations, and others to generate a solution. The public plays a crucial role in enhancing and shaping our national resilience, and Reed noted that a goal is to empower the American people so they are informed of risks and actions to take. One challenge will be in making the most effective use of resources, which are constrained; however, our thinking need not be constrained and we can be innovative and creative, he said.
Strategic Intent at the National Level
Admiral Thad Allen began his keynote remarks by underscoring the important foundation laid by the National Academies (2012) report and by commending those involved in initiating and continuing these conversations. He drew upon his experiences in leading the federal disaster response efforts to Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to inform his remarks. He echoed Reed’s point that the scale and scope of recent disasters have dwarfed those of past events, and he continued by highlighting a new reality: the nation is facing increasing levels of complexity and uncertainty with disasters. Allen mentioned that some of the root causes that contribute to greater complexity and uncertainty include, for example, interactions between the natural and human built environment, increasing population density, aging infrastructure, and changing environments and climates. In solving today’s complex problems, Allen stated that no single entity—not the federal government, private sector firms, or nonprofit or voluntary organizations—has the scale, resources, competency, and authority necessary to bring about those solutions. Therefore, it is even more important for stakeholders at all levels to understand the critical role they will play in building a more resilient nation (Figure 2-2).
Allen stressed two key aspects of resilience: strategic intent and reconciling opportunity and competency. Acting with strategic intent at all levels is necessary, Allen noted, because decisions made at the national level and in
individual homes can turn into actions that reverberate throughout communities. At the national level, Allen stated that the government has a “responsibility to act with strategic intent,” yet there are limitations to what the government is capable of doing based on authorization, appropriations, and policies. At the community level, there is responsibility to make these issues relevant for people and their families every day; and at the local and regional levels, there is a responsibility to develop collaborations and cooperative networks. Allen noted the importance of treating people like family and relating to them with values they can understand. At the local level, this kind of understanding needs to exist among family members, neighbors, and the community. Allen stated that in the end, “everybody has to understand that there is something in it for them.”
Allen echoed Reed’s Lego® analogy and suggested that another key aspect of resilience is the ability to reconcile opportunity and competency. A roadmap will not always be available when a problem arises, especially problems that are unpredictable and increasingly complex. However, precursors can create an opportunity to put competencies in place prior to an event. If an event should occur, various actors could then be more responsive and engage in adaptive and rapid learning. Allen cited the efforts of C. J. Huff, Superintendent of the Joplin School District, in investing in his community and creating those networks prior to the 2011 Joplin tornado as critical to the community’s rebuilding efforts and resilience after the tornado (Box 2-3). Allen’s greatest challenge in responding to both Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was creating a unity of efforts. Though unified efforts were critical, Allen noted that unity of effort needs to be preceded by a unity of thinking: of developing a culture of resilience within the community so that people are focused on key elements of resilience before an event occurs.
Community-based Resilience Efforts with the Joplin Tornado
Admiral Thad Allen described how the community-building efforts of C. J. Huff were vital in establishing a culture of resilience in the Joplin, Missouri community. C. J. Huff accepted the Superintendent position at the Joplin School District with the sole goal of reducing the dropout rate. In carrying out his plan to reduce the dropout rate, Huff established networks within the community and with families and students. By forming coalitions with the local community, raising money, and involving the private sector, Huff succeeded in dramatically reducing the dropout rate. As a result of these efforts, Huff also unknowingly enabled the community to establish trusted relationships, collaborations, and networks.
An EF5 tornado touched down in Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011 and resulted in loss of life and catastrophic damage. Even though the tornado destroyed the high school and parts of Joplin, it did not devastate their
community; Huff was even able to meet payroll the day following the tornado, to start the school year the following semester in a mall, and put a football team on the field even though they lacked formal facilities.
Social equity concerns can be even more apparent in the midst of disaster response efforts. Some at-risk populations may lack the ability to take part in their own recovery and response because of preexisting conditions (for example, low-income areas). Although the event does not create preexisting conditions, those conditions may be exacerbated by the event. Allen likened resilience at the community level to the human immune system: those who get sick and have a weaker immune system will not fare as well as those with a robust immune system.
Developing a Culture of Resilience
The first panel addressed the issue of developing a culture of resilience. Panelists included Natalie Jayroe of Second Harvest Food Bank, Stephen Flynn of the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern University, Gerald Galloway, Jr. of the University of Maryland, and Tom Tait, Mayor of Anaheim, California. The panel was moderated by Miles O’Brien.
O’Brien began the discussion by asking the question: How do you define resilience? Jayroe responded by stating that resilience in a community is defined by both tangible and intangible aspects. Some of the tangibles might include the communications that are needed between government, the private sector, and non-profits and all of the pre- and post-event planning that needs to take place. However, the first aspect of a resilient community is that it is a healthy community. Jayroe went on to indicate that “health” includes not only physical or mental health, but also the assurance that people in the community have assets, the ability to thrive, and a robust infrastructure. In discussing the intangible aspects of resilience, the story of New Orleans came to her mind. Jayroe indicated that the community there is one of will, passion, love, and a desire to rebuild and become stronger than before. These intangibles became very important for the community to rebuild after Katrina when faced with deficiencies in some of the tangible areas.
Stephen Flynn suggested that resilience is the capacity to respond to and confront adversity, and overcome it. He cited the American spirit: how pilgrims and ancestors took risks and were resilient. Flynn continued by characterizing resilience as including a continuity of critical services, functions, and values; as people having the ability to manage risk as a baseline; and as the ability to embrace challenges.
A question was posed to Mayor Tait as to whether politicians are disconnected from the concept of resilience. In response, Tait mentioned that politicians want to serve people, and that in Anaheim, those people are viewed as citizens rather than customers. Viewing people in that way, he indicated, empowers the individual with his or her responsibility to and in the community. This approach translates, Tait said, to knowing your neighbor and being able to help your neighbor if a disaster occurs. Tait also viewed kindness as another word for resilience, and suggested that people’s kindness toward one another can function as a core value of a community. The campaign of kindness was a platform on which he ran his successful campaign for mayor. He indicated that people respond positively to kindness and that it involves not just being nice to others, but also the acts of doing something for others and for the community. Jayroe agreed that the terms resilience and kindness could be synonymous.
O’Brien asked about the issue of risk and where that belongs in the discussion about resilience (Figure 2-3). Flynn noted that culturally, people have come to expect that we can become a society that is nearly risk-free if we apply enough power and intellect to the issue. He suggested that an important step is needed to change the conversation and to develop a more resilient society, and that will occur when political leaders help the public understand and acknowledge that risk exists and that being resilient relates to our ability to deal with that existing risk. Galloway noted that we live in a world where bad news is unwelcome. Yet we need leaders who want to be informed about risks and our exposure to adverse events, and to be prepared to present risk to the American people. He suggested that people may be willing to respond once they understand the risk and are informed about what to do. The derecho that struck a section of the East Coast of the United States in the summer of 2012, Galloway said, provided an impetus for leaders to prepare for the future, and consequently, those leaders were more prepared for Superstorm Sandy. Jayroe said that we need to bring down the barriers between the various levels of government in working together, and specifically noted that the federal level is typically more risk averse.
The next question posed by O’Brien delved into how best to foster resilience. Flynn mentioned that resilience requires incentives to overcome barriers and passive expectations that recipients typically have during a disaster. For example, electricians could play a critical role in restoring services during widespread power outages, yet because of liability issues, there is a barrier to their involvement to help with efforts to ensure continuity of function. This kind of barrier to involvement is in contrast to defilibrators that are placed in common areas for anyone to use and assist in a medical emergency, Flynn said.
O’Brien asked Tait about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s criticisms of New Jersey mayors who ignored his evacuation orders. Tait, in attempting to explain it from a public servant’s point of view, said that politicians have a desire to serve. Part of the desire to serve is to treat people well, but there needs to be a change in culture from one where people see the role of government as their caretakers to a culture where individuals focus on preparedness and responsibility. Mayor Tait mentioned the important role of political leaders in having the courage to use common sense and be kind. A city can either help or hinder in bringing a community together. Jayroe further noted how important it is to understand demographics and data in order to respond appropriately to the needs of a community.
An audience participant asked how social media is transforming how people have a voice in the culture of resilience. In harnessing the power of social media, Mayor Tait mentioned that the city of Anaheim is using Next Door to connect people together and to be better prepared. Flynn mentioned that one key barrier is that the “professionals” are slow to use social media because it does not follow traditional principles and protocols of crisis management. However, Flynn pointed out that even though social media is self-organizing and self-mobilizing, it is also self-correcting and it self-corrects more quickly than most official channels. Flynn mentioned that people want to quickly assess and organize efforts to respond. Social media allows a message to be quickly pushed within a network, and then those networks can interact with other networks.
Personal networks are where the people are. Jayroe stated that nonprofit organizations and grassroots-oriented and community groups can play an important role with social media and communications in funneling information to relevant decisionmakers.
A member of the audience posed the question of whether this national dialogue on developing a culture of resilience is being informed by international discourse on issues such as disaster risk reduction and climate change and adaptation. Galloway mentioned that even though it was not the focus of the committee’s report, the committee was informed about international efforts (for example, the United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Reduction2). The committee chose to focus their resilience efforts on the United States because there were enough issues to consider just within this country. However, Galloway mentioned that we could benefit by learning from examples overseas, as issues faced by other countries could be informative for us. For example, learning how information about the tsunami was propagated in Cambodia by social media and how villages responded might be helpful for propagating emergency information and response in this country. Flynn mentioned that his institute at Northeastern University is creating an international resilience research network to connect research institutes and universities working on resilience across the world.
O’Brien raised the topic of socioeconomic issues and whether they are a factor in resilience. He asked whether a correlation exists between economic wealth and resilience, how much of the correlation is a function of infrastructure, and whether infrastructure capacity is crumbling and unable to support society. In responding to those questions, Flynn said that there are economic constraints in advancing individual resilience (for example, individuals with their own backup generators are more resilient during power outages), but we operate in a community (for example, backup generators operate using gas and gas stations serve a wide range of people). Flynn pointed out that we are not stepping up as a society to maintain infrastructure, and the disadvantaged tend to live in the most structurally vulnerable areas, which is not to say that lower-income people are individually less resilient. However, Flynn continued, the country needs healthy communities that are functional on a day-to-day basis so that extreme events can be handled well. Tait mentioned that it is important for people in a community to know each other so that they can take care of each other. With a city like Anaheim where 350,000 people live and there is suburban sprawl, building resilience has been challenging.
A member of the audience raised the question of whether the nation exhibits a culture of denial, meaning that people may find it easier not to confront
2 The United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Reduction was adopted by the United Nations in December 1999 to coordinate disaster risk reduction and to implement an international blueprint for disaster risk reduction. For more information, see http://www.unisdr.org/
a problem, and how that kind of culture fits in with efforts to increase accountability and resilience. Tait agreed that the packaging of the message is important; for example, the use of positive messages motivates people more than the message of doom. A culture of denial may exist, he said, in that people often do not believe that the worst situation is a possibility.
On the issue of holding communities and policymakers more accountable, Tait mentioned that accountability and kindness are not mutually exclusive, but are one in the same, citing the example of how a kind parent does not allow his or her child to run amok. Jayroe offered the idea that once people feel included as part of the process, they can more easily be held accountable. Flynn stated that the purpose of such accountability is to restore a critical function of society (for example, the ability to go back to school after a disaster). Galloway viewed resilience as being founded on trust and kindness. All four panelists agreed upon the need to establish and institutionalize relationships within a community and among people before a disaster, as these pre-existing relationships make it easier for all to identify and acknowledge their roles and responsibilities during and after a disaster event.
The Reality of Resilience: From Vision to Action
The second panel addressed how resilience could translate from vision to action and become a reality. Panelists included Debra Ballen of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, Linda Langston of the National Association of Counties, and Ellis Stanley, Sr. of Hammerman & Gainer International, Inc. Miles O’Brien also moderated this panel.
The first question posed by O’Brien to Ballen was about structural integrity and resilience. Ballen cited the importance of having resilience built into our structures—with the development and legislation of building codes—and the importance of science and the need for scientific accuracy in supporting the need to enhance structural integrity. Ballen also noted the tension with interested parties who want to live in risk-prone areas but who are unwilling to pay the corresponding value of insurance premiums for that risk. For example, with repeat flooding comes serious repetitive loss, which raises a concern politically of what happens when there is a denial of flood insurance because certain areas have flooded too many times.
As with the first panel, the theme of building relationships and trust emerged throughout this panel discussion. Ballen called on the importance of scientific accuracy and the need to trust the science behind decisions. Langston mentioned the significance of building relationships and trust before the disaster, as it will be important to be able to draw upon that trust in the immediacy of the critical event. Resilience is a community endeavor on all levels (local, regional, state, and federal), she continued, but elected officials do not always build those
necessary relationships (for example, to participate in drills) although these public officials will need to become the face of the community when disaster strikes. Resilience efforts, Langston said, have to be driven by the local community. Stanley emphasized the importance of listening, and of getting elected officials at the table and having them listen to the community because many of the solutions already exist in the community. Everyone has a role and responsibility in the issue of resilience, and there are roles for everyone at all levels of experience (Figure 2-4).
Another theme that emerged from the panel discussion was the importance of communication. Ballen mentioned a communication problem in framing risk. The panel concurred that risk is typically described in mathematical probabilities, which do not translate well with the public. Stanley raised the issue of social media serving as useful tools to communicate and build networks prior to an incident so that an audience already exists for receiving information and taking action when an event occurs. Langston emphasized how the use of language matters in these discussions, and that the language has to be consistent and to reflect core values.
Climate change was a topic that was also broached. Ballen mentioned that although we as a society are not fully prepared for climate change today, Superstorm Sandy reinforced that future climate scenarios will need to consider the issue of climate change. Langston noted that we would be conducting a
disservice if we do not discuss these issues, because these kinds of events now appear to be “the new normal.” She added that it will be important to engage people in these conversations so that they will be comfortable talking about these issues and making decisions based upon available resources.
The regionalization of disaster response and recovery was another important topic raised in the course of panel discussion. Langston discussed the challenge of authority and jurisdiction of federal and state authorities over a disaster. Stanley cited the importance of communicating across multiple levels (from neighborhood councils to elected officials) to empower people to action. He furthermore suggested an idea of a “resilience manager” and instituting this role for emergency managers or their equivalents in communities.
Federal Perspectives on Resilience in Light of Superstorm Sandy
This third and last panel, comprising high-level officials in four federal agencies, addressed resilience as it related to Superstorm Sandy. Panelists included Assistant Administrator Corey Gruber of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Assistant Secretary Patricia Hoffman of the Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Assistant Secretary Kathryn Sullivan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Miles O’Brien moderated this panel.
O’Brien opened the discussion by asking what each agency learned about its capabilities—what was good and what was “not so good”—through handling Superstorm Sandy (Figure 2-5). Gruber responded that a robust response was critical and that included all of the capacity across the federal government, as well as state and local governments, to mount a response to such an event. Gruber also indicated the importance, for agencies such as FEMA to continue to take into account the fact the people affected by a disaster are reacting to great stresses in a complex environment. Managing expectations becomes a key for agencies in these situations. From the perspective of the energy infrastructure in the affected area, Hoffman indicated that careful examination of the interdependencies between the energy system and the electric grid is important, particularly as the nation continues to address more events such as Sandy. Although work has been ongoing to modernize the electric grid in the country, Hoffman said, building resilience into the energy infrastructure also means incorporating an understanding of where telecommunications, homes, and other infrastructure are also being built and optimizing how these pieces of the network interact. The Department of Energy is examining the current infrastructure and looking at building them better in the future through, for example, better sensors on power systems to determine when and how power, or emergency power, can safely be synchronized and restored.
Lurie emphasized the importance of knowing people’s needs and identifying vulnerable people (for example, those with disabilities or special needs) in advance of a disaster. This comment led to the importance of social connectedness to provide “lifelines” for those who need special assistance during a disaster event. Lurie said that the team of about 1200 people that the DHHS and other members of the national disaster medical system sent to assist in the area immediately after Sandy found that many people had helped their neighbors in need. A key in such circumstances is to have a layered approach, with a combination of individuals, neighbors, bystanders, government officials, and volunteers who are all part of the response, she said.
Sullivan mentioned that NOAA was spot-on for their forecast of Superstorm Sandy, which was due to many lessons learned from the severe weather events of 2011 and other years. Good communication of complex information to the public was a theme she emphasized. Effective communication involves not only explaining what the forecast means to others so that the public can act and respond appropriately, Sullivan stressed, but also having good relationships with stakeholders in the warning chain such as emergency managers, elected officials, TV broadcasters, nonprofit organizations, and others. Using the right kind of language is critical—for example, shampoo companies do
not sell shampoo by showing images of bad hair, but instead show images of who consumers want to be and provide an image of the benefits that would attract them to that brand of shampoo. Similarly, frightening people with regard to their vulnerability to disasters is not a good approach; rather, community leaders can help build the positive relationships in a community to help citizens understand and know what they will look like as a resilient community—one that is able to respond positively to an event and the good that resilience can do for a community every day. Hurricane Irene was a great example of communicating timely information using vivid and dramatic language that the public can understand. The panelists highlighted how help could be provided through a combination of social connections and better technologies.
When asked about the role of science in resilience, Gruber said that the Department of Homeland Security currently uses a threat and hazard identification and risk assessment process that can be shared with communities across the country, and the FEMA mitigation review is being issued soon. Lurie mentioned that the public health side conducts a lot of surveillance, and the principles of surveillance can be applied to social media as information is being gathered. Improving the response time for science information during and after an event is also a focus of HHS, whose vision includes trying to use science more effectively to influence the recovery from an event. As for the science response, Hoffman indicated that information and analytics are critical to make the right decisions at the right time. For example, when restoring electricity, it is important to communicate that it will take 5 days to restore power so people can plan for health needs. In the event of cascading failures over a long period of time, new sensors and capabilities are needed to modernize our infrastructure. In a related dialogue, Sullivan indicated real concern over the aging satellite infrastructure that currently provides environmental intelligence and data in advance of extreme weather events for the United States.
For the issue of pandemics, Lurie mentioned that the question goes back to capabilities: the same set of capabilities is needed to respond to a disaster, whether it is H1N1, a bioterror event, cyber attack, or flood. This approach is based on the principle that you can mix and match existing capabilities with 80/20: if 80 percent of what is needed is in place, then you can figure out the other 20 percent. There is still a need for public communication, situation awareness, and mitigation, but how these are conducted differs by the type of event.
O’Brien’s last question to the panel was about what each agency needs from Congress. Gruber mentioned that Congress is already actively involved with the work FEMA is conducting, and the FEMA Administrator has been using a “maximum of maximums,” which refers to scenarios at their peaks to determine potential consequences. Hoffman stressed the importance of developing a culture of resilience, and that Superstorm Sandy was the first time that utility workers were considered first responders. All panelists agreed that
cooperation and communication are needed at all levels, from the community to the interagency levels of the federal government.
SYNOPSIS OF THE MORNING SESSION
At the end of the public session, Gene Whitney, a member of the committee, provided a summary of the morning’s keynote addresses and panel discussion (Figure 2-6). Whitney noted that the concept of resilience is quite complex, and it became evident as the morning session progressed that the term “resilience” can be “squishy” and not concrete, yet a lot of emphasis was placed on response and recovery. A better understanding is needed of what resilience means as a characteristic of our communities, he said, and building resilience before a disaster occurs is of great importance. The event itself reveals whether or not you are resilient. Questions remain as to what actions are required to build resilience in communities, he indicated.
From the keynote addresses and panel discussions, Whitney identified both good and bad news. The bad news is that losses from disasters are increasing and likely to get worse. Many citizens are in denial and believe that
addressing disasters is a job for professionals. Communities in vulnerable places continue to rebuild in these same places because people want their homes and communities as they were before a disaster. At the same time, people do not like being told what to do, and thereby can create conflicts in implementation of resilience-building actions. The good news is that awareness of and leadership in resilience across the country is evident. Local leaders are being educated about disaster resilience, and they are building trust in advance with citizens. All decisions in communities, Whitney emphasized, can and need to be guided by resilience.
Whitney mentioned that leadership is needed at all levels, within and outside of government, to build resilience. He also underscored the need for a national vision for resilience, including short- and long-term goals toward which the nation, at the community level, can work to increase our resilience.
National Academies. 2012. Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). 2010. Loss of Thrust in Both Engines After Encountering a Flock of Birds and Subsequent Ditching on the Hudson River US Airways Flight 1649. Available at http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2010/aar1003.pdf (accessed July 8, 2013).
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