Role of Leadership

  Universal "Politics should be kept out of the rescue, response and rebuilding effort, even though this seldom happens.“It is imperative that politicians stay out of the process. Strong leadership is best shown by providing support to the professionals." - Collective Reflection  

Successful leadership in the wake of a disaster provides an opportune stepping stone to political development.

Signing of the Intergovenmental Letter of Agreement was held at the foodprint of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building/City of Oklahoma City

Disasters that significantly affect a community, a state and a nation, all at the same time, create a competitive situation for the respective leaders who may be tempted to take advantage of the opportunity to further their careers. In this case, the practice of keeping politics out of an incident is probably as impossible as it appears to the leaders involved to be impractical. Nevertheless, recovery from a disaster calls for statesmen, not politicians.

To date, Oklahoma City is probably the best example of cooperation among municipal and national entities functioning smoothly and apolitically through both the rescue/recovery process and the memorial process. The rescue/recovery process was managed through the Incident Command System, now National Incident Management System (NIMS), under the leadership of Oklahoma City Fire Chief Gary Marrs. The investigative process was under FBI control, but Chief Marrs already knew the FBI Special Agent in Charge and worked seamlessly with him. Both exhibited cooperation and respect. The memorial process was guided by a unanimously accepted Mission Statement and conducted under an Intergovernmental Letter of Agreement, a document that obligated all levels of government – national, state and local – to support the memorial process. It also provided an independent organization to control the process, thus avoiding the potential of undue influence by any government agency or level.

The can do attitude – Leadership plays a major role in establishing the mindset for the process.

An image of strong and resolute leadership generates a more positive support response. The immediacy of establishing this image is important, because the image of leadership is captured in the first contacts by the media and perpetuated. The image remains, whether accurate or not. (Calame, 11) Local leadership needs to display calm, strength and confidence in a successful rescue and recovery. A can do attitude, which creates an image of confidence, is extremely important in the immediate stages of the response and the recovery process.

In speaking about his response to 9/11, Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that he felt it most important to “be compassionate and be optimistic. It is important not to allow the community to feel overwhelmed.” (Oklahoma City National Memorial National Media Symposium with Rudy Giuliani and Ron Norick)

When a question was posed to the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce asking what they considered to be their greatest success in the recovery program, they said it was the attitude of their mayor. “He took the lead in being a spokesperson and made sure that the measure was positive. He instilled a sense of hope that made people begin to work towards recovery.” (Graham, Charleston Collection)

The can do attitude impacts the recovery and rehabilitation process in two ways.

  • It avoids directing attention and expectations to a limited number of resources, thus avoiding raising unrealistic expectations.
  • It opens the door for the massive amount of resources in both public and private sectors, allowing both government/agency capital and social capital to come into play, often as partnerships that will enhance expertise beyond that of a single source action. In fact, it may energize the potential of social capital – friendships, faith communities, school and education-related organizations, clubs and well developed patterns of generalized trust and reciprocity (Chamlee-Wright) – as opposed to formal support from institutionalized relief agencies and government agencies.

In all major disasters, outside help is an absolute necessity to accomplish the tasks of rescue, recovery and rebuilding. Where an attitude of confidence is displayed, however, the support APPEARS to augment a strong leadership base and thus is viewed as a supplement. When less confident leadership is displayed, the support BECOMES the primary rescue, recovery and rebuilding units. This immediate mindset and impression set the pace and roles for future intergovernmental interaction in the rebuilding process and shape the attitude of the public for the disaster’s aftermath.

Do leaders have a feeling of inadequacy when they find themselves faced with the destruction and loss of life in a disaster? Of course. Are they facing challenges for which they have no ready solutions? Certainly. Robert Meyer stated in Why We Under-Prepare for Hazards, "Although communities have experience in preparing for storms, they have far less experience in recovering from them." (Daniels 155)

The uncertainty of man-made disasters sets them apart from most natural disasters.

When a hurricane or tornado has passed, there is a level of certainty that the initial trauma is over. In a terrorist incident, people have no idea if this is the only attack or if more are to follow, creating a slightly different playing field for both the immediate response and the long-term rebuilding process. The incident has an enormous psychological impact upon the community – one that leaves a lasting fear of the unknown and a propensity for feeling vulnerable. A city can pass codes to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, but working with man-made disasters is a case of second-guessing the unknown.

Cultivating and maintaining relationships on an inter-governmental and community level will pay huge dividends in the speed and quality of service after a disaster.

This cannot be emphasized enough, according to the Oklahoma City leadership. Oklahoma City had reviewed and tested its emergency response plan in an exercise with FEMA at Emitsburg, MD, one year before the bombing in 1995. Members of the response community, all sectors and all levels, already knew each other and the resources available when responding to the bombing. In the wake of Hurricane Hugo, Charleston recommended the need for a disaster team comprised of local government officials and representatives of all sectors of the community to oversee the development and implementation of a preparedness plan. (Hugo Economic Recovery Report)

Working with those impacted is important.

In this country, citizens are encouraged to participate in their own governance; thus, outreach by the planners to get public involvement is both an imperative and a challenge: finding a way to include the public given the complexities of the public composition and condition in the wake of a disaster.

AmericaSpeaks facilitated public meeting to develop a United New Orleans Plan (UNOP) for rebuilding/AmericaSpeaks

At the same time, people impacted by the disaster – not only those injured and those who lost loved ones but also those who suffered trauma in any format – are in varying stages of healing, recovery, and response capacity due to circumstances that limit their potential for acceptability of compromise. For example, in New Orleans, a large percentage of those impacted were functionally illiterate and unable to understand the complexities of city planning. Many were temporarily living in other cities and states. Many still had no homes or jobs. Rebuilding the economy and social structure of an entire city was as important as rebuilding the homes. In Oklahoma City, they were in various stages of grieving but had been able to recover their loved ones/friends. Many were dealing with crippling injuries. Multiple businesses were affected. In New York City, many families never received a body. The perpetrators were also mingled into the rubble at ground zero. The economic impact was massive.

Those impacted appear to respond better to others in the same situation because those who have experienced similar hardships have more credibility for them. “I know just how you are feeling,” only rings true if offered by someone who has experienced a similar trauma. However, if we have learned that those impacted respond more positively to people who have also experienced a loss similar to theirs, does it follow that they can accept a compromise better if it is posed to them by another victim? This question, when posed to people in Oklahoma City, received a majority yes, but not a unanimous yes. Some of the survivors said it depends on the skill of the person offering the compromises. (Collective Reflection)

People may be in an almost illogical mental state and in various stages of developing a new normal. Everybody wants the before and identifies that as their goal. The before equates to normal for them. It is very hard to see any future, let alone a brighter future. They have to move to the level of understanding that they cannot turn back the clock, and begin moving toward a new normal.

Every incident, although filled with heartache and hardships, offers a new opportunity for something positive. Those with some distance can more easily see the opportunities, but implementing these opportunities in a country where the public is encouraged to participate requires selling the opportunities to those impacted, who will probably have difficulty in seeing them.

How do you find people who are in a position to help their peers? How do you identify who is capable, who is sufficiently along the path toward accepting a new normal?

This appears to be extremely important and unbelievably difficult. Suggestions include the following:

  • Look for those who come forward on their own initiative. Make it known that there is a desire to have participation and some will be forthcoming. Oklahoma handled this through media and multiple town-hall meetings. New York and New Orleans handled it through large town-hall meetings, mostly facilitated by AmericaSpeaks.
  • If there are multiple opportunities for participation, people are apt to gravitate to those that provide the best match for their current mental state. In Oklahoma City, some worked on the memorial process, others worked on legislative reform (such as shortening the number and time involved in the appeals process), some concentrated on helping other federal employees, etc. The opportunity to help appears to have been healing for them, and having a selection from which to choose allowed them to work in areas best suited to their needs.
  • Involving mental health professionals in virtually all activities in the early stages of rebuilding is very helpful. They can provide guidance regarding victims as to who is ready to participate and who is not.
  • Those impacted go through the stages of recovery and finding a new normal at differing speeds. They also experience triggers – a sound, a smell, a thought – that evoke memories and may affect their status at any given time. Thus, they may go in and out of healthy mental space. It is necessary to allow for these fluctuations and to know that someone who is in a sufficiently healthy mental state to work with the rebuilding process may find himself/herself unable to continue working at a later time. However, new people are always reaching a level of mental health that will allow them to fill the vacated spot. These are important participants and they must be allowed to work when it is good for them and to leave when they need to do so. Experience helps one identify the various mental stages, but the involvement of a mental health professional is the safest way to maintain evaluation of situations.
  • You need not limit your participants to those who already agree with your ideas. Those directly affected have experienced trauma but they are not incapacitated. Hear their concerns and make your points with them based on the value of the idea. If the healthy people cannot be convinced, you have virtually no chance of convincing the least healthy of this group. The best presenters to the entire body of those impacted are some of their own group.

Those impacted may form new families. In Oklahoma City, the family members and survivors became a new family. In New York City, many of the employees of World Trade Center companies, although they may have already considered themselves families, became much closer. In New Orleans, neighborhood organizations became new families. The leaders of these new families are likely participants at the community level and can provide a conduit both directions for information. They are also likely to be among those of the most stable mental health.

How do you identify the permanently wounded, those who will never move beyond the event? This is an important factor for community leaders who are trying to juggle outreach while planning the recovery process.

We do not have an answer for this question. A side effect of this may be the propensity for conspiracy theories to explain the inexplicable.

  • One of the Oklahoma City survivors suggested that perhaps getting as much information as possible out as early as possible and countering rumors quickly might help dispel this challenge. The less time occupied with countering such theories, the more time and resources can be devoted to moving forward.
  • Opening as many venues as possible for those impacted to participate in the rebuilding and memorial process might help.
  • Keep in mind that people recover at different rates. Making sure that calls for participation go out repeatedly over long periods of time is good, as people need to be able to participate when they are able to do so. (Collective Reflection)

Central contact for media and information must be established in the first few hours.

A designated area was established in Oklahoma City for the media and regular briefings were scheduled to provide updates on the rescue and recovery process. The area was frequently referred to as "satellite city."/City of Oklahoma City

This is separate from an information line for those impacted. It must be under the control of an experienced person who understands the media’s informational needs and deadlines. The media must fill time and space. In a disaster, the media reports the story, assists in filling special needs regarding supplies and services, and shapes the public mindset. For this reason, they should be treated as vital in the rescue and recovery process, especially the local media.

The quicker the relationship is developed, the less likelihood of rumors or misinformation being reported and the quicker errors can be dispelled. (Collective Reflection)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed a pocket guide for public officials that contains valuable information in working with the media in the wake of a disaster, Communicating in a Crisis: Risk Communication Guidelines for Public Officials. This guide was developed based on lessons learned from the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks.

British guidelines for handling information after a terrorist incident include the following:

  • Only use a few highly qualified and recognizable sources for public information
  • Implement a highly integrated communication system to collate information and ensure accurate and frequent updates from those same sources
  • Underplay rather than overplay the public pronouncements
  • Provide actionable information for the public
  • Allow a wide-range of expressions of sympathy to be broadcast from recognizable leaders including community leaders from minority populations who may become ‘targets’ for revenge attacks

National Center for Critical Incident Analysis: Comments on London Bombings

Establish symbols of hope and understand the role they play.

The Survivor Tree, now a prominent feature in the Oklahoma City National Memorial Outdoor Symbolic Memorial/Oklahoma City National Memorial, G. Jill Evans

The Superdome with its new roof ready for the 2006 football season/FEMA, Ed Edahl
Confidence appears to play a major role in recovery and confidence appears to be buoyed by hope. Thus, symbols of hope become significant. For Oklahoma City, initially the leafing out of a tree in the center of Ground Zero became a strong symbol of hope. For New Orleans, the reopening of the Super Dome and then an incredible season for the Saints became important symbols of hope. This was followed by the revival of Mardi Gras, only months after Katrina, and then a second year of Mardi Gras that was equal to the pre-Katrina days.

A special case that served two cities: The New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets

Ten years before Katrina, Oklahoma City had suffered the man-made trauma of terrorism. After Katrina, they opened their arms to the New Orleans Hornets, who needed a temporary home. Oklahoma City’s experience with the Hornets proved to them that the city was fully back and ready to support a professional team. At the same time, Oklahoma City, of all cities, understood the importance of the Hornets’ return to New Orleans. Impacted cities that have experienced such trauma have an understanding of needs that exceeds those cities less experienced with the challenges of rebuilding. “Oklahoma City was there for us when we faced disaster, in part because they understood so well the things we were dealing with in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.” - George Shin, Oklahoma City National Memorial, April 20, 2007


Community Rebuilding

  • Rebuilding is not quick
  • In every disaster there is also an opportunity

Working in the Shadows of the Past

The same forces that created vulnerability in a community prior to disaster continue to affect that community during and after reconstruction. Disaster should be measured in terms of social, psychological, physical, economic and political disruption. The trauma from a disaster impacts at different levels – individual, group, community, municipal, state, national and global – and each experiences the disaster differently. (Calame, 7)

The most effective reconstruction efforts proceed from an understanding of the already existing underlying factors and avoiding compounding them.

“Katrina’s aftermath raised perhaps the most profound and disturbing moral question that our society
has yet fully to confront: How willing is the United States to compensate for the increased risks to
life and health associated with poverty, race, growing economic inequality, inadequate emergency
preparedness, and antiquated urban infrastructures?” (Daniels vii.)

The recovery and rebuilding process has recognizable phases.

  1. Emergency Phase – rescue, assessment and critical repairs to infrastructure
  2. Transitional Phase – residents and businesses return to normal patterns of work and social relations
  3. Reconstruction Phase – ordering of the community and its environment

Studies show that these stages vary based on the magnitude of the disaster and available social capital. These resources are affected by pre-disaster prosperity, nature of damages suffered and quality of leadership devoted to reconstruction. (ibid., 7-10)

Rebuilding vs. Relocation

“Before the 1993 U.S. Midwest flood, no North American jurisdiction had employed buy-out and relocation strategies to reduce the consequences of natural disasters, but they emerged at the forefront of U.S. federal flood reforms as an instrument warranting attention along with that of structural control works. Under the Hazard Mitigation and Assistance Act of 1993, Congress legislated that funds be made available for projects to acquire and demolish homes that should not be rebuilt, to elevate at-risk buildings or relocate them to higher ground, and flood proof at-risk structures (Quinn 1996). Several communities accepted the federal government’s proposal and removed homes and businesses from flood plains. Within three years of the 1993 Midwest flood, the federal government, with the aid of state and local governments, had removed or relocated more than 8,000 families from flood hazard areas in the Mississippi and Missouri water basins and, in the process, converted more than 100,000 acres of partially flooded farmlands into wetlands, which serve as a sponge for rising waters, and offer an attractive alternative for meeting future flood control needs. Commentators estimated that when the program was implemented it would save some $200 million over twenty years, even without another near record flood, and that while the initial cost of relocating communities would be substantial, the price would be a one-time only payment and people in these communities, once moved, would never be returned to the flood plain and taxpayers would never again have to pay literally to bail them out of a problem that had been anticipated.” (Daniels 99)

Encouraging relocation poses special challenges for local governments: it entails a loss in the number of residents and the size of the tax base for the community, and it invites a backlash in future elections from residents remaining.

Michael J. Trebilcock and Ronald J. Daniels, in Rationales and Instruments for Government Intervention in Natural Disasters pose some recommendations related to the challenges of rebuilding or relocating.

  • Zoning restrictions on the highest risk locations and building code requirements for upgrading the structure of existing and future buildings to water-proof, wind-proof them might be appropriate for remaining in disaster-prone locations.
  • Mandatory minimally subsidized disaster insurance, appropriately risk rated, would be required to be obtained and maintained by all current and future residents who choose to remain in disaster-prone areas.
  • Generous means-tested inducements to relocate to less disaster-prone areas would be available to current (but not future) residents facing new zoning restrictions and building code requirements.

(Daniels 105-106)

The Potential of Social Capital

Rebuilding in Plaquemine Parrish after Katrina/FEMA, Wayne & Nancy Weikel
Challenges faced in rebuilding after a disaster
Residents need

  • a place to stay
  • jobs
  • financial resources for rebuilding
  • schools for their children
  • transportation or sufficient infrastructure to use private transportation
  • basic services and utilities
  • functioning local businesses to fill the basic consumer needs
  • a functioning local government

Businesses need clients and employees

Taylor Rutledge, Clarksville, TN, put together 60 backpacks for children in New Orleans in a "Hugs for Hurricane Victims' Drive" in her own neighborhood in September 2005/Jeremiah Taylor
There is often a general assumption that no market solution to massive devastation exists, that it can only be rebuilt through centralized planning and formal financing (formal/traditional/material capital – formal support). However, pockets regenerated in New Orleans before the centralized planning and formal financing developed that led to consideration of another resource identified in the Mercatus Center Studies – Social Capital.

For purposes of the Mercatus Center Studies, the researchers classified social capital – friendships, faith communities, parent/teacher organizations, book clubs, and well developed patterns of generalized trust and reciprocity – into four (maybe six as they are tracking two additional areas for future study) categories.

1. Mutual assistance: People helping each other provide both tangible assistance and a psychological signal for support and commitment. The major limitation of mutual assistance is that it draws upon persons equally devastated, particularly in a widespread disaster.

2. Charitable Action: Charitable support may be individual or organized. Its advantage is that it draws upon outside resources and has more flexibility and creativity than more centralized funding.

Broadmoor, a district in new Orleans, activated and enhanced an existing neighborhood organization and launched a recovery program well before the Unified New Orleans Plan was developed. Individual yard signs and community banners reading "Broadmoor Lives" are visible everywhere in the district/Claude Thomas
One of their articles contains an extensive discussion on recovery under centralized control vs. the contribution of decentralized reconstructive activity in the rebuilding process. The author, Emily Chamlee-Wright, contends that the trend in recovery is toward greater central control and little recognition of the value of decentralized contributions. “In the post-Soviet world, the general case in favor of economic decentralization has largely been won. But when it comes to disaster response and recovery, the default assumption is quite different, favoring instead greater centralization of decision-making authority.” (Chamlee-Wright, 17) According to Chamlee-Wright, the thinking that seems to run through the proposals for more efficiency in the wake of Katrina “is that effective disaster relief and recovery is essentially a problem of engineering, in need of some authority to seize control and optimally direct resources to appropriate ends.” (ibid.) There is recognition that some repairs require the engineering proscription. “But the larger problem to be solved is not one akin to engineering, but is instead a complex social process that cries out for decentralized experimentation.” (ibid.)

In New Orleans, the Preservation Resource Center asked the neighborhood leadership in the city’s historic neighborhoods to assess their status one year after Katrina. We learned that a high level of flooding doesn’t always mean that the rate of recovery will be slow. The pace and the progress seem more often to be affected by the combination of community spirit and creative leadership. (One Year Later: Life in New Orleans’ Historic Neighborhoods: An Update from the Preservation Resource Center and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, August 24, 2006)

"The flatter organizational structures that are more commonly found within civil society put less distance between frontline responders who acquire this local knowledge and those who possess the relevant decision rights to put that knowledge to effective use. The deeply layered hierarchies more commonly associated with federal and state relief agencies, on the other hand, tend to generate risk-averse behavior on the part of frontline responders. The first responder will bear any costs associated with a creative decision (one based on accumulated local knowledge), while someone further up the chain of command will bear any costs associated with strict adherence to the rules. Centralized decision rights tend to suppress the capacity to deploy local knowledge in creative and productive ways."

“Because disaster situations are by definition non-routine, creative reallocation of resources can prove vital to effective response.” Discussion followed of the constraints of the Stafford Act that allowed FEMA to spend large sums to provide temporary trailers but would not allow those same resources to be put toward safer, more attractive, and less expensive modular housing units which could eventually become part of a larger rebuilt home. (Chamlee-Wright, 20-22) Likewise, “while FEMA is required by law to provide temporary housing in the aftermath of major disasters, it is not required to purchase one-size-fits-all travel trailers. If it had instead issued housing vouchers, markets and philanthropic organizations would have been able to respond much more quickly to storm victims’ housing needs with a far wider variety of options.” (ibid., 32-33)

Brookings Institution also suggested that using the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program after Katrina would have had an additional value in that it would have helped to lessen the concentration of poverty that had for decades limited New Orleans’ long-term prospects. (Katz & Muro)

3. Commercial Cooperation: Commercial cooperation provides essential material support, helps to coordinate expectations by signaling commitment to a neighborhood or community and lays the foundation for the redevelopment of place-based social capital. Working in the realm of “enlightened self interest” the commercial community will extend to protect employees and clients, while, at the same time, the commercial activity both signals recovery and feeds community rebound.

4. Restoration or creation of a key community resource: A key resource might be an anchor business, a school or a church. Such an endeavor “can inspire the redevelopment of place-based social capital, thereby increasing the perceived benefits of committing to the long term recovery process.” (Chamlee-Wright, 31)

5. Ethnic-religious networking: This is a category for future research by Mercatus Center. “Community leaders such as Father Vien Nguyen of the Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church in New Orleans East helped to organize crews of returning residents to assist one another in gutting and repairing homes. The early return of large numbers of residents and the quick progress they made in repairing their homes played a pivotal role in securing the return of services from the power company Entergy.” (ibid., 11)

6. Political action: This is a category for future research by Mercatus Center.

In reviewing this material, city leaders, who had guided the recovery in Oklahoma City after the 1995 bombing, recommended that social capital is neither sufficient nor often efficient; however, it is very important as a supplement and it brings with it the “buy in” that speeds the process. The challenge for leadership is to find the ideal combination of formal and social capital to expedite the recovery and rebuilding. (Collective Reflection)

Accessing funding and setting expectations

Rebuilding the levees in New Orleans/FEMA
Power and political dynamics underlie reconstruction and need to be incorporated as levels of expectation are shaped for the public. Also, sources of reconstruction revenues affect the final reconstructed product. The source of revenue, whether public or private, carries its own caveats that will affect the end result.

Whatever the sources of funding, the members of the affected community should be treated as clients, not simply the beneficiaries, to produce the best possible results. (Calame, 14-15)

Working within the restrictions of some funding sources can pose its own set of challenges. Regardless of the personal desires of the representatives in the field, funding agencies, whether public or private, have their own set of regulations that have been developed to satisfy their respective constituencies. Although Calame advises that, to produce the best possible results, the affected community should be treated as a client, this may not always be practical and may not always lead to the best use of the donor’s funds. Perhaps a better route to gain the greatest results would be to look carefully at the mandates by which the funding source is controlled and follow those to the letter. The goal would be to find the best match for project and funding source. To deal with the complexities of the national tax codes, cadres of tax experts have been trained. Do we need cadres of post-disaster funding experts to assist communities in finding the best matches and in cutting through the red tape?

Window of time for accessing national/state funds

PATH service at The World Trade Center site was restored in 2003/Jo Wolf

There is a limited window of time to access federal, and maybe even state, funds. Elected officials at the federal and state level have home-based obligations and their own agendas that catapulted them to their positions. Their interest and capacity for providing extensive aid to a single community may depend upon the amount of national attention and sympathy generated by the incident and the strength of any delegation that is personally invested in the successful recovery of the community. All of these circumstances must be weighed carefully to properly evaluate the window of time available to seek national/state assistance. (Collective Reflection)

“Research suggests that the strength of personal leadership at the local level determines the availability of resources . . . the more decision making that is removed from the local community, the more the feeling of helplessness is accentuated . . . . The ideal reconstruction plan would rely exclusively on local professionals in the allied building and preservation fields since they possess the most intimate knowledge of the affected sites and can maintain a consistent presence on the site.” (Calame, 16)

It is important to understand that Calame’s reference to local professionals does not exclude those already working for the community. The recommendation from the Oklahoma City leadership was the following progression: Look first to the city employees who know the system and infrastructure better than any others. Then look to local service companies and individual professionals. Lastly, seek assistance from those at the national level. However, it is important to keep in mind that the level of expertise in various departments within city government may vary with the type of city government. A Council-Manager form of government, using a professional City Manager, is almost invariably filled with professionals in the respective areas. Patronage appointments may dilute the level of expertise in the Mayor-Council form of municipal government, where the Mayor appoints the department heads. (Collective Reflection)

Catch 22s In Funding City Infrastructure and Service Needs

Government funding is often reimbursement, not funding up front. Cities in financial stress cannot fund a project and then request a reimbursement. In Louisiana, there is an effort to change these rules to allow a percent in the form of an advance payment that will allow the planning and beginning implementation of a project that can then be handled on a reimbursement arrangement.

In situations where past experience has identified a level of graft, corruption and/or mismanagement, there may be a tendency to over review and audit the process in an effort to assure the legality, frugality or viability of the expenditures, thus choking the process in bureaucracy. Work to find a way to expedite funding assistance and avoid the bureaucratic quagmire.

Possible Solutions

Vanderhorst Street, Charleston, SC, after Hurricane Hugo/Historic Charleston Foundation
For expediting estimates of loss, in most cases insurance adjusters are very efficient in providing needed estimates. In cases that overwhelm, such firms as Adjusters International have created teams to help with this process. A secondary challenge in the estimating process is differentiating what damage is a result of the incident and what might have been normal wear and tear or neglect. Adjusters need to be specific in their documentation as to cause of damage. This is imperative to assist the community agencies in the next step of identifying eligibility for specifically designated funds.

For reimbursed funding, a possible solution is a program, established by the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority and approved by the state Bond Commission in December 2006, that allows local governments awaiting FEMA reimbursements to borrow 75% to 80% of their anticipated grants, and then repay the money after the reimbursement arrives.

In the wake of Hurricane Hugo, Charleston recommended that the Governor should be authorized to advance emergency funds for disaster stricken areas before receiving federal disaster aid. The funding would be available from a disaster insurance reserve fund set up by the State of South Carolina. Funds would be released from the State’s general fund and reimbursed to the disaster reserve fund when money is received from insurance and other disaster aid. They also recommended that local governments should set up disaster reserve funds as part of the preparedness process. (Hugo Economic Recovery Report)

Oklahoma City is aware that it is always at potential risk from tornadoes and thus maintains a disaster reserve fund. They also recommend this as part of the preparedness process – certainly for any community that is obviously at risk. (Collective Reflection)

Individual Financial Assistance

The funds made available for rebuilding in New Orleans were controversial. The total sum available to a residence was $150,000; however, any insurance money or FEMA money received had to be deducted from the total sum of $150,000. The controversy was compounded when those who had qualified and obtained SBA loans found that the grant funds had to be applied to the SBA loan.

Further aggravating the situation is the general belief that in Louisiana there is a culture of “pay to play” (Horne, 307, First Informers, 26). Interviews with residents in the Lower 9th Ward indicated a belief that the deductions for FEMA grants and insurance will go to line the pockets of the locals administering the federal funds. It has created a very difficult situation that is more the product of the local culture than of government efforts to bring relief. (Interview with J. W. Tatum, Holy Cross Neighborhood Association)

In an interview, Carla LeBoeuf, whose home was flooded by Rita in Dulac, LA, suggested considering deducting for any free money, such as FEMA grants, but not including in the exemption insurance funds for which the recipient had been paying premiums. Deduction for insurance funds is a federal mandate. However, this same issue was discussed at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, with some suggestions being made for an allowance of one or more years of insurance premiums. Nothing came of the discussion then, but certainly this is an issue that bears future consideration. (Collective Reflection)

Oklahoma City used its federal grant funds to create both a grant and a loan program. The loan portion of this program now provides a revolving loan fund for the City to provide on-going assistance in economic development in the area of the Murrah bombing. (Collective Reflection)

Controlling Cost of Living Increases

Cost of living increase is an endemic challenge in a post disaster setting, particularly when a large percent of the housing has been destroyed. Communities that have experienced this challenge need to share their experiences and suggestions in an effort to help others in future incidents.

Efforts should be made to prevent excessive cost of living increases (housing and property) while using the opportunity for improved housing and quality of life. In the wake of Katrina, The Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program, did a study of New Orleans’ housing pre-Katrina, looked at mixed-income, mixed-financed developments in Atlanta, St. Louis, Louisville and Pittsburgh, and made several valuable recommendations for future housing development in New Orleans. (Brookings, Amy Liu)

New Orleans is exploring the development of a suite of homebuyer assistance programs aimed at low to moderate-income residents. These would provide gap financing and soft seconds funds to assist home buyers, including closing cost assistance, favorable interest rates and technical assistance to home purchasers as well as rehabilitation loans for renovation of blighted homes unaffected by Katrina, in a citywide improvement program. New Orleans is also taking a page from the mixed public housing plans that have functioned successfully in several other cities and using a zoning ordinance to require for-profit developers to include below market rate as a percentage of large scale housing developments. (Draft-Unified New Orleans Plan, January 20, 2007)

When considering replacement for public housing, be cautious about imported influences that might not accurately represent the goals of the local population. In spring 2008, as the city of New Orleans began to implement its plans for razing the damaged public housing projects and replacing them with new units of mixed housing, protestors collected outside the units to prevent the demolition. Many participants were not former residents of New Orleans, but rather young adults bussed into New Orleans for the protest.

The University of Texas at Arlington conducted a survey of 2,109 families who lived in Housing Authority of New Orleans complexes before Hurricane Katrina and found that 70 percent of them desired to return to the city, but most of them had no desire to return to the existing public housing complexes. “Cast against the backdrop of a raging debate over plans to demolish the city’s “Big Four” complexes, more than 80 percent of those families who lived in C. J. Peete, B. W. Cooper, St. Bernard and Lafitte, the developments slated for the wrecking ball, said they now would prefer to live elsewhere.” (The Times-Picayune, 03/07/08)

Lending Institutions, Insurance and Real Estate

Combining the recommendations from GAO, Brookings and Jed Horne indicates a need to bring together the lending institutions, real estate agents and insurance companies to work together in financing and rebuilding a damaged community. This suggestion, and another that dialogue on these issues begin, was reinforced by Oklahoma City leadership during the Collective Reflection in 2007.

SBA was backlogged and inefficient after Katrina. GAO recommends that the lending institutions assist in screening and completing applications. The lending institutions could also make the most knowledgeable recommendations for identifying and creating pools of funds to be used for rebuilding and the structure through which they could be used most efficiently.

Real estate input is imperative to maintain a viable cost of living ratio to rebuild a community that incorporates progress yet maintains the desired cultural flavor. In the rebuilding after Hugo, real estate in Charleston jumped dramatically in price and altered the flavor of the city. In New Orleans, real estate in some areas has risen by 30%, as has the real estate along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

This is, however, one of those areas where the pre-incident circumstance will greatly affect the post-incident values. In Charleston and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, development was already desirable and competitive in the areas most affected. In Oklahoma City, much of the damaged area was depressed. The removal of already dilapidated or deteriorating structures allowed for revitalization of the area. In this case, the increased value of property was not excessive and the impact was positive and appreciated. It is important to keep in mind that the pre-incident circumstances always play a major role in the post-incident development.

New Orleans, LA, after Hurricane Katrina/Global Security
Insurance plays a major role both at the time of the incident and in the future. After Andrew, several insurance companies went under and several left the area, making insurance costs prohibitive. The decision after Katrina for the residents of Lakeview to sue the Corps of Engineers and the Levee Boards was to avoid causing the insurance companies to leave the state. The insurance industry must play its role, yet people must understand that this is a business that is market driven.

In a 1998 book on the role that insurance can play in combination with other strategies for encouraging loss reduction and for aiding the recovery process following natural disasters, Howard Kunreuther and R. J. Roth recommended the following: “Economic costs of natural disasters to the nation are too high and are likely to soar in the future unless some steps are taken to change recent trends. Insurers can address these problems in a constructive manner only through joint efforts with other stakeholders, and through the use of strategies that combine insurance with monetary incentives, fines, tax credits, well-enforced building codes, and land-use regulations. For example, one way to reduce future losses is to utilize insurance with well-enforced building codes and land-use regulations to successfully reduce losses.” (Paying the Price: The Status and Role of Insurance Against National Disasters in the United States)

After Andrew, state officials took a hard look at construction practices and regulations in Florida. They emphasized enforcing current codes and drafting new legislation and regulations to ensure that buildings could withstand strong winds. A report by the Institute for Business and Home Safety said the new codes, had they been in place in 1992, would have reduced Andrew’s more than $26 billion in damage by more than $10 billion. (Himberger, Sulek and Krill)

Lending institutions, insurance and real estate need to come together to find the most viable routes for reconstruction, while at the same time not destroying any of the three and maintaining the ambience that is the primary attraction for the city.

Urban Land Reform

“In their paper, “Seizing City Assets: Ten Steps to Urban Land Reform,” Paul Brophy and Jennifer Vey provide the following practical guide and best practices for city and state leaders to install the right policies, regulations, and capacities to address the full continuum of needs to facilitate redevelopment:

  • Know the territory. The city must be able to quantify and map the location of all of the available land and property, including information on the property itself and the zoning that underlies that land. This information should be made publicly available and updated regularly.
  • Develop a citywide approach to redevelopment. For the city, engagement in the citywide unified plan would be critical.
  • Implement neighborhood plans in partnership with neighborhood stakeholders. Neighborhood plans that are part of the unified plan would meet this need. But it is essential for the current or future modified plans to be informed by an assessment of how many abandoned properties are likely in each neighborhood, potentially widening the choices for what to do with such properties.
  • Make government effective. The city must create a seamless, efficient, and effective set of rules and procedures for property acquisition, land assembly and disposition. Similarly, the city must streamline and efficiently administer all local processes such as permitting, revising zoning ordinances, enforcing building codes, and implementing other regulations.
  • Create a legal framework for sound redevelopment. This might mean establishing a state law to create a land bank authority that can take on the task of acquiring, fixing up, assembling, and marketing land and properties for redevelopment.
  • Create marketable opportunities. The city needs to create a transparent development process and reach out to private developers and non-profit organizations. The city should also create a plan and resources to actually clean up or modernize the land or property so it is marketable.
  • Support finance redevelopment. The city and state might need to work together to develop gap financing or other resources to help non-profits participate in the redevelopment of property or to set up tax increment finance districts to generate up-front revenues for redevelopment.
  • Build on natural and historic assets. The city and state may put in financial incentives to preserve historic buildings or package land and properties that enhance city assets, such as parks and cultural districts.
  • Be sensitive to gentrification and relocation issues. As the city acquires land and properties, especially in some of the most damaged parts of the city that were home to low-income and working families, it should ensure that families who cannot afford to maintain a home are given sensible options or that the acquired properties, when assembled, are maintained as economically and socially diverse neighborhoods.
  • Organize for success. This is a lot of work and requires the mayor and his city staff to develop strong relationships with the state, private and nonprofit developers, and its citizens to ensure support for a transparent, efficient, and comprehensive approach to these properties. (summary of steps quoted from Brookings, Amy Liu; for information on original article by Brophy and Vey, see bibliography)

Tackling an Entire City that Has Been Damaged

New Orleans divided the city into 13 Planning Districts, each developing its own wish list and redevelopment plans, knowing that this was a first step and not a final plan. These 13 plans and a city-wide plan were interactively developed into a Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP). In the unification of these plans and the assessment of the individual redevelopment of New Orleans, the City was divided into 3 targeted planning areas as follows:

  • Areas with slow repopulation rates and high risk of future flooding
  • Areas with moderate repopulation rates and moderate risk of future flooding
  • Areas with fast repopulation rates and low risk of future flooding

In the UNOP, policies, programs and projects were adjusted to accommodate the requirements of these three proposed planning areas. This allowed the City to assess status of and set timelines for infrastructure and public transportation development, to identify where clustering should best be encouraged and to set other priorities, such as education and health care, and public services in line with the people’s needs. (UNOP, January 20, 2007, draft)

Greensburg, Kansas, worked with a relatively new function of FEMA to develop a Long Term Recovery Plan that will give the U. S. its first green community. One of Greensburg’s greatest challenges was the gap between insured and replacement costs. Most of the homes and buildings had been insured at the market value. However, the citizens quickly learned that replacement cost was considerably more than market value.

Enormous areas and whole communities were destroyed along the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Katrina. Mississippi also took advantage of the new FEMA function designed to assist in long term recovery to develop recovery plans for the Gulf Coast counties, and established the Mississippi Governor’s Office for Recovery and Renewal to implement the long term recovery plans.

Just as Louisiana State University was experimenting with small, nucleus housing that was designed to withstand hurricane level forces, Mississippi architects created the Katrina (Mississippi) Cottage. The Mississippi Cottage concept is a small, pre-fabricated home that can provide temporary housing, much as is usually provided by a trailer, that can become the nucleus for a larger house as the family gets re-established on their property, or can be used as an office or workshop after a new residence has been built. As of March 2008, Mississippi had provided 2000 cottages to replace FEMA trailers. These Mississippi Cottages can be purchased by the occupant or returned and removed by the state according to the desires of the land owner.

The Katrina Cottage designers have created a number of models that are available through private-sector sources. Lowe’s has introduced four Katrina Cottage designs in kit versions. Cottage Square in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, displays 23 models. New Orleans residents are beginning to use some of these models and the federal government is considering a cluster of these for housing at Jackson Barracks. The Salvation Army is looking at the Katrina Cottages for property it owns in Gulfport, MS. (;

Think Green

Reconstruction provides an opportunity to adopt green building standards for all new construction. Not only is this encouraged in building but also public transportation vehicles, where destroyed units are to be replaced with more energy efficient models. (UNOP, draft, January 20, 2007)

Jordan Commons, a product of Hurricane Andrew (1992), is an example of improved residential housing. Jordan Commons is a cooperative effort of the Metro Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) and Homestead Habitat for Humanity, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International located in Homestead, Florida. The project was designed to build 200 homes for low income persons affected by Hurricane Andrew, with a goal of providing affordable, quality housing and to demonstrate the application of energy-efficient technologies and their corresponding energy and financial savings. (Smart Communities)

Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources have produced a comprehensive manual, “Building Your Louisiana House: Homeowners’ Guide to Shaping the Future for Louisiana Living.” This guide provides excellent information on rehabbing or building homes that are resource-efficient (green), durable (decay, natural hazard, and pest resistant), healthy (functionally safe with quality air control), convenient (high tech and family friendly) and practical (cost effective). This manual also provides dozens of contacts for additional information on building safer and more efficient homes.

Historic Properties

The Journal Record Building, originally a Masonic Temple, was damaged in the Oklahoma City bombing. It has been restored and houses the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum and Administrative offices/The Journal Record
The Heritage Emergency National Task Force was formed in 1995 to help libraries and archives, museums, historical societies, and historic sites better protect their collections and buildings from natural disasters and other emergencies. The Task Force promotes preparedness and mitigation and provides expert information on response and salvage to institutions and the public. Sponsored by the nonprofit Heritage Preservation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Task Force is a partnership of 40 federal agencies and national service organizations. Together its members constitute a nationwide resource of information, expertise, and assistance in the wake of a disaster.

Working with Those Immediately Affected by a Disaster

Those immediately affected by a disaster feel very vulnerable and are slow to extend credibility to those trying to provide them with guidance. They tend to hear and respond more positively to others who have had similar experiences. Thus, family members from New York responded better to family members from Oklahoma City than to traditional counselors or mental health professionals. New Orleans turned to Charleston and Kobe to seek advice on the rebuilding process. The past experience provides a level of credibility not carried by those who have not shared the experience of trauma. This also may hold true in trying to sell an idea that may be less palatable but more logical. For example, some of the suggestions made by the Bring New Orleans Back (BNOB) commission, or even those made by the later district development plans may have advantages for the future not easily recognizable to those who are suffering at this moment. If concessions for any reason are needed from those impacted, they are far more likely to be made if approached by another person in their circumstances than if they appear to be dictated by one who has less credibility to them. A level of shock limits their flexibility to make concessions and compromises.

Public Input in the Planning Process

AmericaSpeaks uses a system of hand held wireless devices that allows thousands of people to participate in the decision making process/AmericaSpeaks
AmericaSpeaks is a unique non-profit, non-partisan organization that has developed innovative deliberative tools such as the 21st Century town Meeting ® to engage the voice of citizens in decision making. The 21st Century Town Meeting is a public forum that links technology with small-group, face-to-face dialogue to allow thousands of people to deliberate simultaneously – even in multiple locations – about complex public policy issues and express a shared message to decision-makers. This opens doors for greater inclusion in the rebuilding and planning process. It accomplishes similar goals to those attained by Oklahoma City through its extensive survey and town hall meetings, but allows for larger, demographically representative and more efficient public participation. Among hundreds of other communities, AmericaSpeaks has worked with both New York City and New Orleans in their respective planning processes.

Personal Compensation

Though it may be necessary, personal compensation resulting from an incident is fraught with dangers and misunderstandings. In each incident the precedent being set and the long-term ramifications of any type of government funding to individuals must be considered. Some people in Oklahoma City reacted very negatively toward the individual funding provided to those impacted in New York City, even though there might have been a logical reason for this compensation. The situation was further exacerbated by the inclusion of compensation for those impacted by Pan Am 103 in the negotiations with Libya.

Contractors for Debris Removal and Repair

Charleston recommended temporary business licenses (60-90 days in length) be issued to out-of-town businesses operating in the area during a recovery period to generate additional local revenues and to serve as a verification process for out-of-town businesses. (Hugo Economic Recovery Report) “Dealing with the thousands of construction and other recovery people pouring into the community and trying to help people find out who were reputable versus not,” was listed by Mary Graham (Charleston Metro Chamber Senior Vice President, 2007) as one of the most challenging aspects of the Charleston recovery.

Louisiana developed a Contractor Guide that was distributed at every gathering, available widely and also available online at It provided tips on hiring a contractor, how to check on the validity of a license, a guide for average pricing and how to file complaints and report violations.

Common Concerns Shared by Multiple Neighborhoods in New Orleans One Year After Katrina

According to the National Trust Report, residents of all neighborhoods across the board shared the following concerns:

  • Whether proposed by the city or by the individual homeowner, demolitions are of real concern and raise questions and fears for neighborhoods trying to retain their character while they recover. Residents want good information on the city’s demolition plans.
  • Residents who have returned to their houses are very concerned about vacant and ABANDONED PROPERTIES where there is no activity. Rental property is slow to rebuild. Procedures and incentives need to be established to put properties back into service.
  • STRUGGLES WITH PUBLIC AGENCIES AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR – settling with insurance companies, searching for reliable contractors, waiting for utility hook-ups, dealing with FEMA rulings, applying for SBA assistance and State Road Home grants, weighing whether to elevate their homes – all present challenges to the homeowner working to rebuild.
  • Whether in populated sections or neighborhoods undergoing rebuilding, crime is a major fear and presents an obstacle to recovery. In New Orleans, neighborhoods have stepped up their meetings with district police and reinvigorated crime watch programs, all with the goal of preventing crimes against people and crimes against property. The looting of architectural material from buildings or the removal of property in buildings undergoing renovation is a continuing problem.
  • Neighborhoods report concerns about CITY SERVICES – inadequate garbage collection, absence of maintenance of neutral grounds and public parks, missing street signs. In New Orleans, citizens have responded by organizing groups such as the Katrina Krewe and neighborhood organizations are taking the lead trying to control the problem. Every weekend, hundreds of residents are picking up trash on the neutral grounds and mowing grass at local libraries and public buildings. Most neighborhood associations have a special trash committee to coordinate volunteer clean-up efforts and report problems. Some city street signs are handcrafted replacements, while missing water meter covers in the sidewalks are wooden replacements of the metal originals.
  • In New Orleans, some flooded neighborhoods began their own NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING efforts in the fall of 2005 on their own initiative. Other flooded neighborhoods have been working with professional planners since the spring of 2006. In summer of 2006, a re-cast citywide planning initiative was implemented. Neighborhoods want assurance that any work they have done so far won’t be wasted or held up. Neighborhoods just starting the process want to ensure that their efforts will result in concrete benefits to them. (National Trust Report)

Community Image

New Federal Campus built in Oklahoma City/GSA

Reconstruction at The World Trade Center, New York City/Jo Wolf
"There was a delicate balance of trying to attract visitors back when people were still without power and homeless." (Mary Graham, Charleston) This is extremely important if tourism is a major factor in the community’s economic base.

In Oklahoma City, resistance to the image of being the “Bombing City” was extensive. At the same time, the site of the bombing and later the Oklahoma City National Memorial were the greatest single attraction to Oklahoma City for not only individual visitors but also those planning conferences and conventions. The Memorial continues to provide Oklahoma City with an image of hope and resilience, illustrating the remarkable response of our community and our nation to an act of domestic terrorism.

New Orleans’ Grey Lines Tours included a tour of the damaged areas among the programs and found it to be one of the greatest attractions.






Resources for Help

Adjusters International
126 Business Park Drive, P.O. Box 90
Utica, New York 13503-0090
Phone 800.382.2468

American Planning Association

American Planning Association has produced the first all-hazards guidance manual for local planners developing plans for post-disaster recovery and reconstruction. It includes a model ordinance and case studies of five different hazard scenarios: flood, earthquake, tornado, wildfire, and hurricane. The report also offers planning tools for managing long-term community recovery after a natural disaster. Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction, Robert Deyle, Charles Eadie, Jim Schwab, Richard Smith, Kenneth Topping, APA Planning Advisory Service, 1998.

1050 17th Street, NW, Suite 701
Washington, DC 20036
Phone 202.775.3939
Fax 202.775.0404

Founded in 1995 to provide citizens with a great voice in public decision making, its innovative, deliberative, democracy mechanisms give those in leadership positions direct, substantive citizen feedback on key issues. AmericaSpeaks uses a methodology called a 21st Century Town Meeting®, which creates an intimate, safe space where diverse groups of people can tell their stories, listen to one another, and wrestle over tough choices, while at the same time finding consensus among thousands of people. They use keypad polling, groupware computers and trained facilitators to find agreements among participants.

The Brookings Institution
Center for Urban & Metropolitan Policy
1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone 202.797.6000

The Metropolitan Policy Program
The Metropolitan Policy Programs aims to redefine the challenges facing metropolitan America and promote innovative solutions to help communities grow in more inclusive, competitive, and sustainable ways.

Global Green USA
1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036-2002
Fax 202.222.0703

Global Green is a relatively new organization, founded in 1993 by Diane Meyer Simon. It is a national environmental organization addressing the need to stem global climate change by creating green buildings and cities. Their unique approach merges innovative research, cutting-edge community based projects and targeted advocacy that educates, leverages dollars for environmental initiatives and implements ground-breaking environmental policy

Habitat for Humanity
International Agency

Heritage Emergency National Task Force
1012 14th St. NW
Suite 1200
Washington, DC 20005
Phone 202.233.0800

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources
Technology Assessment Division
617 N. 3rd Street
P O Box 44156
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-4156

Los Angeles Housing Department
Major Projects Division
3550 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone 213.808.8936

Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10006
Phone 212.962.2300

LMDC was created in the aftermath of September 11 by Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani to help plan and coordinate the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan, defined as everything south of Houston Street. The LMDC is a joint State-City corporation governed by a 16-member Board, half appointed by the Governor of New York and half by the Mayor of New York City. LMDC is charged with ensuring Lower Manhattan recovers from the attacks and emerges even better than it was before.

LSU AgCenter Crescent Region Office
6640 Riverside Drive, Suite 200
Metairie, LA 70003-7110
Phone 504.838.1170, 1171 or 1172

Mercatus Center
George Mason University
3301 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 450
Arlington, VA 22201-4433
Phone 703.993.4930

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is a research center focused on improving our understanding of how societies transition to prosperity and remain prosperous over time. The findings of that research are then communicated to decision makers in a position to act on them. They are now in the process of a five year study on the reconstruction in the wake of Katrina.

Contact Emily Chamlee-Wright, Professor of economics at Beloit College and affiliate senior scholar at the Mercatus Center. Her research interests lie at the intersection between economic growth and culture, and she studies how market processes and cultures interact. Professor Chamlee-Wright is a former Kellogg National Leadership Fellow and earned her Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University.

Metro Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management
701 N.W. 1st Court
Miami, FL 33136
Phone 305.372.6789

Mississippi Governor’s Office, Recovery and Renewal
P O Box 139
Jackson, MS 39205

Mississippi Alternative Housing Program

National Trust for Historic Preservation
1785 Massachusetts Avenue
Washington, DC 20036

National Trust for Historic Preservation has a resource webpage that identifies sources of expertise for almost any type of problem faced in rehabilitating historic properties.


NeighborWorks America

1325 G. St., NW, Suite 800

Washington, DC 20005
Phone 202.376.2600

NeighborWorks America is a national nonprofit organization created by Congress to provide financial support, technical assistance and training for community-based revitalization efforts. After Katrina, NeighborWorks paired with Tulane University School of Architecture students to create designs for affordable homes and to build four prototypes as models for New Orleans. They completed their first of the four models in October 2006, a three-bedroom, two-bath house, built in 15 weeks by “smart, but unskilled students’ in the School of Architecture. (The Times Picayune, 10/17/2006)

NeighborWorks® America has eight district offices across the United States


New Jersey Institute of Technology
University Heights
Newark, New Jersey 07102-1982
Phone 973.596.3000

Contact: James Dart

Penn Institute for Urban Research
Eugenia L. Birch & Susan M. Wachter
University of Pennsylvania
127 Meyerson Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Pratt Institute

200 Willoughby Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11205
Phone 718.636.3473

Contacts: Ron Shiffman and Deborah Gans


Preservation Trades Network, Inc.

P O Box 249

Amherst, NH 03031-0249
Phone 866.853.9335
Fax 866.853.9336

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
1 Choke Cherry Road
Rockville, MD 20857

The Preservation Trades Network, Inc. (PTN) was formed in the state of Connecticut in 2001 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit to provide a focus on and support of the sharing of the preservation trade's knowledge of the physical process of preservation and how to shape and work historic materials. PTN was conceived in 1995 at an Association for Preservation Technology (APT) conference roundtable strategy session in Washington, DC, and later became a Task Force of APT. At the time, representatives of the preservation trades felt it important the trades be recognized as a valued member of preservation project teams. To do this, the preservation trades took action to build a community of like-minded individuals who share knowledge of the process of historic preservation as it occurs in the field. PTN believes the preservation trades can make a difference by sharing information about their crafts among peers. Learning to share enhances the relationships of trades working with trades, and improves the effectiveness of the preservation trades within the overall preservation project team. Accordingly, PTN has set itself to building a community of preservationists who share in a hands-on approach.

Additional Resources

Evacuation Louisiana Citizen Awareness and Disaster Evacuation Guide

Housing Los Angeles Housing Department (866.557.7368)

Housing Disaster Hits Home: New Policy for Urban Housing Recovery, by Mary C. Comerio,
University of California Press, 1998

Housing The Brookings Institution, Bruce Katz & Mark Muro (Metropolitan Policy Program), (202.797.6000)

Infrastructure Pros and cons of Davis-Bacon in reconstruction work – Economic Policy Institute, (202.775.8810)

« Previous Section: Primary Case Studies Next Section: Business »


620 N. Harvey, Oklahoma City  |  405.235.3313 888.542.HOPE
©2011 Oklahoma City National Memorial