NEW YORK – In 2009, President Obama charged the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development with bringing together a group of more than 20 federal departments, agencies and offices to develop a guide for disaster recovery organizations and to make recommendations for improving the nation’s approach to disaster recovery.
The group created the National Disaster Recovery Framework, or NDRF. The framework, a guide to effective recovery for large-scale or catastrophic disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, requires strong coordination across all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.
It also focuses on how states, tribes and local jurisdictions can best restore, redevelop and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural and environmental fabric of their communities after major disasters, thus building a more resilient nation.
Two of the concepts introduced by the framework are the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, or FDRC, and Recovery Support Functions, or RSFs. (The other two NDRF concepts are state or tribal disaster recovery coordinators and local disaster recovery managers.)
Following a major disaster, the FDRC facilitates coordination and collaboration among federal, tribal, state and local governments, the private sector, voluntary and faith-based organizations. The FDRC works with local disaster recovery managers and state and/or tribal disaster recovery coordinators.
Each of six recovery support functions addresses a core recovery area. They are: community planning and capacity building, economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure systems, and natural and cultural resources.
Each function’s purpose is to support local governments by helping with problem solving, improving access to resources and fostering coordination among state and federal agencies, nongovernmental partners and others with a stake in the recovery. The support functions help communities accelerate recovery, redevelopment and revitalization.
Since Sandy, the FDRC and the recovery support functions have been working to help recovery workers in New York do their jobs better by connecting them with federal, state, local and nongovernmental solutions.
For example, in September, the FDRC unveiled the online interactive community resource mapping tool. The tool allows people at all levels of government, community-based and other nongovernmental organizations to identify, track, assess, coordinate and connect unmet Sandy-related needs with solutions provided by governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
The tool features nearly 2,000 data points in about 100 ZIP codes in New York, Bronx, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Nassau and Suffolk counties. It provides information on home damage, nonprofit recovery organizations and their service areas, and other recovery activities. It also can generate reports, prepare recovery analysis, support grant applications and serve as a template for recovery from future disasters. The mapping tool is updated frequently and eventually will be fully accessible.
In addition to the mapping tool, there is now a set of sea level rise maps to help communities, residents, and others consider the risks from future sea level rise as they plan for reconstruction.
The maps integrate flood hazard data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with information on future sea level rise from two reports, one issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the other from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.
Other federal coordinating accomplishments include the creation and weekly distribution of the electronic Disaster Recovery Bulletin, which includes Web links to information about recovery solutions.
Also, the economic and natural and cultural resources recovery support functions have hosted workshops in Kings and Suffolk counties on wetlands and for small business owners on how to compete for government contracts.
The federal coordinating work continues. In the weeks ahead, a fully accessible website will be launched that will serve as a collaborative online platform where people working toward recovery can exchange information. It will contain recovery solutions, as contributed, in many cases, by users of the site.