RAND REPORT STRESSES IMPORTANCEOF ADVANCED PLANNING FOR FLOOD RECOVERY
Experience shows that communities recover fastest from major floods when all levels of government and the private sector work together to prepare coordinated response plans ahead of time, according to a RAND Corporation report issued today.
The findings come from a study by the RAND Infrastructure, Safety and Environment Division conducted for the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI).
RAND and seven universities created RGSPI in late 2005 to develop a long-term vision and strategy to help build a better future for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The seven universities are: Jackson State University and the University of Southern Mississippi in Mississippi; Tulane University, the University of New Orleans and Xavier University in Louisiana; and Tuskegee University and the University of South Alabama in Alabama.
The study issued today examined four cases of severe flooding in the past 60 years to determine how lessons from each were incorporated into future water management practices. The floods – two in the United States, one in the Netherlands and one in China – all caused widespread death and destruction.
In addition to noting the benefits of a coordinated emergency response in which responders have clearly defined roles, the study notes from past experience that officials in many flood-prone areas eventually choose to surrender some of the land back to the water by forgoing development of floodplains or letting reclaimed lands revert to their natural state.
“After a flood, the temptation is to rebuild and recreate what was previously there, but that's not always the best idea,” said James P. Kahan, a RAND researcher who is the lead author of the study. “The aftermath of disaster often presents the opportunity to address multiple long-standing regional problems.”