Special Post Disaster Information: Build Back Safer & Smarter

Prepared by the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA), this briefing provides quick but essential tips for communities and residents rebuilding after a disaster. While communities affected by a disaster can be in a rush to immediately build back to their pre-disaster state, NHMA implores decision makers to rebuild "safer and smarter" with climate resilient planning. This guide offers nine steps to take when rebuilding to increase resilience and reduce risks from future disasters.

This resource was featured in the September 20, 2018 ASAP Newsletter with the following description: 

"In the aftermath of Florence and any disaster, what communities want more than anything is to be able to return to their lives and a sense of normalcy. However, we must adapt to a ‘new normal’ -- and the NHMA offers guidance on how to do so. This special briefing offers useful and timely information for practitioners and community leaders to make adequate recovery decisions to rebuild with resilience."

  • Step 1: Know the Rules. Review building codes, construction standards, and other regulations that were put in ensure that structures are built to withstand impacts from wind, flooding, earthquakes, and more.
  • Step 2: Adopt higher standards for redevelopment and future development. Many codes and standards represent minimum requirements based upon data from past disasters. This section recommends the adoption of higher standards to increase resilience to future hazards.
  • Step 3: Commit to mitigate. Publicly commit to making your community more resilient by adopting a community resolution or plan.
  • Step 4: Screen damaged areas. Determine where simple repairs can be made and where updated, resilient reconstruction is needed. This section outlines categories for damage and repair.
  • Step 5: Target areas for mitigation. Evaluate areas with the most damage and consider an area-specific mitigation or redevelopment plan -- or, consider not rebuilding in the area. In this process, consider the costs and benefits to public health, safety, and natural floodplain function.
  • Step 6: Involve all those affected in the planning. Execute a participatory planning process to make sure locally important factors are considered in the recovery process, including neighborhood history, desires, and values.
  • Step 7: Keep the public informed. Provide for active community engagement to keep the public apprised of damage assessments, mitigation measures, insurance claims, and disaster assistance procedures, among other recovery initiatives.
  • Step 8: Ensure full repairs and reconstruction. Ensure that inspection and permitting requirements are enforced so that buildings can be safely reoccupied.
  • Step 9: Mitigate to the extent feasible. Look for other opportunities and funding sources to implement mitigation projects to reduce community vulnerability (e.g. home elevation, stronger construction methods, and more).


Publication Date: September 2018


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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