Improving Governments’ Approach to Disaster Recovery and Preparedness

As the frequency and intensity of natural disasters continue to increase, it is more important than ever for all levels of government to prepare for these disasters and, when they happen, to know how to recover.

Holly Leicht, former Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Region 2 Administrator, has written a practical guide for streamlining and expediting individuals’ as well as municipalities’ and regions’ recovery from disasters, as well as helping governments and households prepare for and mitigate the impact of future events.   The report, entitled “Rebuild the Plane Now: Recommendations for Improving Government’s Approach to Disaster Recovery and Preparedness,” was first published in July 2017 but  is as relevant now as ever.

Leicht oversaw New York and New Jersey’s recovery from Sandy during her tenure at HUD.  She makes 41 recommendations for improving disaster preparedness and recovery at the federal, state and local levels. The recommendations – many of which informed bills currently working their way through both houses of Congress – range from legislative and policy changes to better coordination and communication among government entities.

Highlights among the recommendations include:

    • Federal agencies should develop a single web portal and common application for those seeking disaster aid.
    • Congress and the White House should give HUD standing authority to issue CDBG-DR funding after a Presidentially declared disaster.
    • Readiness standards should be incorporated into all local, state and federally funded capital projects, including any future federal infrastructure bills.
    • State and local grantees of federal recovery funds should strongly consider creating a single office or entity dedicated to administering those funds and overseeing recovery programs.
    • State and local governments should pursue a multi-pronged approach to disaster preparedness that combines planning, buyouts, resilient infrastructure, land use and zoning measures, and public outreach.


The report is linked here.

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