Disaster Recovery Resources

Immediately following a disaster, the utmost priority is ensuring everyone's safety and well-being. APA has long engaged with FEMA, APA chapters, and other partners to be ready to assist when disaster relief and recovery work begins. Planners are invited to use the APA research, education and publication resources below to assist with post-disaster recovery work and future hazard mitigation. In addition to these resources below, one of the APA Foundation's key initiatives is to help disaster-devastated communities. Learn more about the Foundation's Community Assistance work.

This Gyrotrac is removing heavy fuels in an undeveloped lot in the Palm Coast subdivision in Flagler County, Florida. The removal of heavy fuels creates a defensible space that can interrupt the path of a fire. Florida Deparment of Forestry.

Wildfire Resources

APA has worked with a number of partners on how to mitigate the risk and impact of damage related to wildfires. Below are several publications that focus specifically on wildfire risk reduction and recovery.

Living on the Edge: Get to Know Your WUI (APA blog)

The Wildland-Urban Interface and Rebuilding After Wildfire (Tuesdays at APA)

The Wildland-Urban Interface (PAS QuickNotes 69)

Fire Resilient Community Design: A New Planning Subfield? (Planning, November 2016)

Limiting Wildfire Risk Through Land-Use Controls (Zoning Practice, May 2012)

Models for Mitigating Wildfire Hazards Through Zoning (Zoning Practice, March 2005)


Planning for Wildfires

This report explores both issues, outlining how knowledge of wildfire risks can be incorporated into comprehensive planning and identifying best practices for development in at-risk areas. Digital PAS Reports are free to APA members.

Planning for Wildfires

Firewise Communities: An Interview with Michelle Steinberg

Post-Disaster Recovery Resources

Post-Disaster Recovery Briefing Papers

The project briefing papers may be used alone or alongside Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation. These succinct, downloadable PDFs are ideal handouts for meetings with officials and the general public.

Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation

This updated PAS Report lays out a no-nonsense explanation of the benefits — and limitations — of planning for unpredictable events. Availableto all as a free download.

Hazard Mitigation: Integrating Best Practices into Planning

This PAS Report outlines how communities can integrate hazard mitigation priorities throughout the local planning process. Available to all as a free download.

Webinars & Training Resources

Access training resources from APA, including how to prepare a recovery plan for a community after a disaster; the next generation of post-disaster recovery; and the free Planning Information Exchange webinars that address resiliency, climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plans, and hazard mitigation implementation.

On-demand Courses

Principles for Preparing a Community's Disaster Recovery Plan

The two-hour interactive webinar, sponsored by APA's Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division, features a broad perspective on preparation of a recovery plan for a community after a disaster. Distinguish between short-term response and longer-term recovery, awareness of successful recovery strategies and types of available funding. On-demand webinar, registration required. CM I 2.0

Disaster Recovery and Healthy, Resilient Communities

Can post-disaster planning be a pathway to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities? Find out how the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Sciences took a new, health-sensitive look at resiliency.

Planning for Disaster Recovery

Learn about best practices for specific subtopics of post-disaster recovery planning. Effective ways to use the briefing papers for public meetings and meetings with public officials.

Post-Disaster Recovery in a Changing Climate

Demographic shifts and climate change are making disasters bigger and costlier. Learn about the next generation of post-disaster recovery so you have the tools for a safer, stronger community.

Planning for Post Disaster Recovery I & II

Weigh the pros and cons of predisaster versus post-disaster planning. Find out how to tie long-term recovery into the rest of your community's planning. And discover a new tool for adapting recovery planning to different types of disaster. Free

Planning Information Exchange Webinars

This is an ongoing series hosted by APA and the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) under a FEMA grant. More than a dozen webinars are currently available for on-demand viewing that address: statewide approaches to resiliency; combining climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plans; and hazard mitigation implementation.

APA Recovery Workshop

The following presentations were created for the APA Recovery Workshop following Hurricane Sandy, but the information is applicable to other natural disasters.

Overview Recovery Planning Practice

Institutional and Financial Frameworks for Recovery

Land Use Permitting Issues

Mitigation and Climate Adaptation

The Role of the Comprehensive Plan in Fostering Recovery

How Are Communities Recovering?

Hurricane and Flooding Resources

APA has made these issues of Zoning Practice available for free:

Accounting for Flood Hazards in the Subdivision Approval Process (March 2016)

Putting Sustainable Zoning into Practice (July 2013)

Promoting Flood Resiliency Through the Regulatory Process (April 2012)

Safe Growth Audits (October 2009)

Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas

This report will help end the cycle of build-damage-rebuild. It offers communities sound guidance to bring subdivision design into line with the best of floodplain planning. The report was produced in partnership with the Association of State Floodplain Managers, with funding from FEMA.

Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard

APA's Hazard Mitigation Center Manager Jim Schwab, FAICP, speaks with Association of State Floodplain Managers Executive Director Chad Berginnis about the establishment of a federal standard for flood risk management and how that affects the hazards field.

"The Cost Comes Before The Benefits"

Former Dutch Ambassador Renee Jones-Bos discusses how the Netherlands has dealt with issues of flooding and offers a unique perspective on how American planners can find value in the Dutch approach to dealing with water management.

NOAA Supporting Resiliency

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discusses how NOAA is meeting the needs to build resilient communities and businesses.

APA Support

Community Planning Assistance Teams

The Community Planning Assistance Team program has dispatched pro bono planners to assist communities in the midst of recovery and rebuilding from a natural disaster. Teams have worked in Lyons, Colorado, and Franklin, Tennessee.

If your community is interested in receiving additional planning support, apply for a CPAT.

Learn how APA Chapters can create their own CPAT program

Hazards Planning Center

APA's Hazards Planning Center advances practices that promote resilience by reducing the impact of natural hazards on communities and regions. Through original and applied research, the center identifies practices that protect communities from natural and man-made hazards and educates planners and allied professionals about those practices.

Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division

The APA Hazard Mitigation and Disaster Recovery Planning Division fosters professional communications about hazard mitigation and disaster recovery planning and builds a stronger knowledge base for use by planners. Join the division or connect via the Division's LinkedIn Group.

Advocacy Outreach

APA staff is available to assist with outreach aimed at making federal and state legislators aware of disaster recovery resources that are available for planners, but also to report on assistance that is being provided by planners. The relevant House office may also be invited to participate in any on-site event or activity. For more information, please contact APA's Policy Director Jason Jordan at jjordan@planning.org.

APA Policy Guide on Hazard Mitigation (2014)

This policy guide discusses the differences and the tension between adaptation, response, and recovery. There is an understandable — and economically and socially rational — basis for wanting to protect community assets in place, protect people, and rebuild in place as quickly as possible, yet this may not be truly in the best long-term interests of individuals, communities, regions, or the nation.

Media Support

Requests for expert spokespeople and assistance with media relations may contact Communications Manager Roberta Rewers, at rrewers@planning.org or 312-786-6395. Additional assistance on preparing communications may be found in the Planners' Communication Guide and Media Center.

Federal and Nonprofit Support

APA has assembled a comprehensive list of disaster recovery and response programs available among federal agencies and some national nonprofits.