Jonathan Morgan is a School of Government faculty member.
North Carolina’s recent experience with Hurricane Irene focuses attention on the difficult challenge of rebuilding a local economy in the aftermath of a major natural disaster. There has been no shortage of disasters–natural and man-made–to occur around the globe in past couple decades. Indeed, the U.S. has had its share: 9/11 terrorist attacks, numerous hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and wildfires. It is amazing to see how many of the natural disasters taking place in the U.S. since 1980 have exceeded $1 billion individually in terms of economic costs. The National Climatic Data Center, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, estimates that the 109 major natural disasters affecting the U.S. since 1980 caused cumulative damage and economic losses totaling more than $750 billion. For a listing and brief summary of these weather-related disasters including their total costs, both in terms of dollars and loss of life, click here.
To assist communities with the daunting process of economic recovery following a major disaster, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) have partnered to create a web-site called RestoreYourEconomy.org. The web site is intended to be a centralized clearinghouse for information and resources on pre-disaster planning/preparation and post-disaster economic recovery. The site includes specific information about:
- the phases of a disaster, before and after
- the distinctive roles of economic development professionals in the planning and recovery process
- navigating the federal system
- communication strategies
- facilitating financial and technical assistance for businesses
- lessons learned from real-life case studies of response and recovery