WHAT IS RECOVERY?
THE PHASES OF A DISASTER: RESPONSE & RELIEF, RECOVERY, MITIGATION, PREPAREDNESS
When most of us think about responding to a disaster, we envision people evacuating flooded homes, moving into temporary shelters, or lining up for water and food because this is what we see on television and read in the newspaper. It is important to understand, however, that there are actually four phases in the disaster response cycle: response & relief, recovery, mitigation, and preparedness. As a non-profit long-term recovery organization (LTRO), MICROAID makes charitable donations and provides no-strings-attached, hands-on assistance using local products and resources in an effort to help people return to self-sufficiency during the “recovery” phase of a disaster.
Response is initiated as soon as an incident has occurred, or prior to the onset of an event such as an approaching hurricane and/or storm. There are two phases to response: emergency and relief.
• First Responders in the emergency phase will be local fire and police departments, and search and rescue teams.
• Others who may initially respond include family, neighbors, churches and community based organizations.
• The emergency response is characterized by activities focusing on the preservation of life and property. This is usually a very dangerous environment.
• The presence of untrained volunteers can present coordination challenges and even endanger the volunteers or others.
• Response during this phase includes search and rescue, evacuation, emergency medical services, feeding and sheltering.
• Basic human needs cared for are medical services and the provision of food,
clothing, and temporary shelter.
• Basic cleanup of homes, businesses, and streets begins.
• Utilities begin to be restored.
• Application for assistance begins.
• People begin moving into temporary housing or return home.
• Human, material, and financial resources may begin to flow into the community.
Recovery starts soon after impact and lasts an extended period of time, even up to several years. This is when MICROAID steps in. Typical activities include restoration of infrastructure and vital life support systems, resumption of the routines of daily life, and initiation of plans for permanent housing (repairing, rebuilding or relocating of homes). Human, material, and financial resources may dwindle with decreasing public awareness. A strong, well-organized long-term recovery group, like MICROAID, can maximize the utilization of available resources to address on-going recovery needs. Additionally, the incorporation of mitigating activities into a community’s recovery process may reduce future loss and impact.
One of the most important elements of long-term recovery is the day-in, day-out effort to reduce disaster’s long-term risk to people and property. This is achieved by:
• community education and awareness,
• relocation or elevation of homes and businesses away from high-risk areas,
• promoting sound building design and construction practices,
• helping local communities adopt flood plain ordinances,
• elevation or relocation of crucial utilities/appliances to safer places within the
All of the mitigation activities are also preparedness activities to lessen the impact of
Survival and quick recovery from disaster depend on providing information and education on personal and community planning. Preparedness includes activities that seek to prevent casualties, expedite response activities, and minimize property damage in the event of a disaster.