Communities should pause before rebuilding after a disaster, CU-Boulder disaster expert advises

November 8, 2013

Nov. 8, 2013                                         Kathleen Tierney

It’s been nearly two months since torrential rains filled mountain creeks, causing widespread flooding and devastation to towns and cities along the Front Range of Colorado. Today people are scrambling to repair homes and rebuild their communities. But community leaders might want to pause before rebuilding, says Kathleen Tierney, director of the Natural Hazards Center at CU-Boulder.

Audio Clips

Audio Script

Communities should pause before rebuilding after a disaster, CU-Boulder disaster expert advises

Nov. 8, 2013                                                                          Kathleen Tierney

It’s been nearly two months since torrential rains filled mountain creeks, causing widespread flooding and devastation to towns and cities along the Front Range of Colorado. Today people are scrambling to repair homes and rebuild their communities. But community leaders might want to pause before rebuilding, says Kathleen Tierney, director of the Natural Hazards Center at CU-Boulder.

CUT 1 (45) “After any disaster there’s a tremendous pressure and need that people feel to get things back to normal - to replace things exactly the way they were. (:11) But research indicates that, longer-term, people in communities might be better off if they just stop and think about how they may want to organize their recovery to protect themselves against future disasters.” (:28)

Tierney says there are a number of communities in the U.S. that paused and took the time to rebuild following a disaster. One very good example, says Tierney, is Greensburg, Kansas.

CUT 2  “The small community of Greensburg, Kansas was essentially leveled by a tornado in 2007. That community came together and decided that it wanted to rebuild in an energy efficient and sustainable way and make Greensburg a true green city. And they did. (:18) Greensburg, Kansas has become a community that is looked at around the world as an example of very forward thinking and sustainable recovery.” (:31)

Tierney says recovery from disaster is not easy nor is it a straightforward process. Her advice to communities in Colorado that have experienced disasters, such as the recent floods and wildfires, is to seek out good advice. Search out the best way to rebuild your community and, if you can, make it less vulnerable to future disasters.

CUT 3 “That has to be part of a broader community discussion where people put their concerns on the table. They put their requirements on the table and communities work in a very collaborative way to seek solutions that are satisfactory. (:17) Good recovery takes time and it takes a lot of effort. There are no short cuts and people who attempt to do things very quickly and to take short cuts often end up unhappier in the long run.” (:30)

CU-Boulder’s Natural Hazards Center is funding seven “Quick Response” grants to study issues related to Colorado’s September floods.

-###-

 

 

Script Download: 
Give FeedbackSee More Photos View Photo