• USGS_Night Fingers_June 27 2018

Recovery 101

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Disaster Recovery Basics

Recovery, Mitigation, and Resilience

Disaster Recovery & Mitigation

  • Disaster recovery takes place after an emergency and is characterized by actions taken to return to normalcy, secure financial assistance to pay for repairs, and restore individual and collective well-being.
  • During recovery, it is also important to identify and implement actions to prepare for and mitigate (lessen) the effects of future disasters.
  • Disaster recovery consists of both short- and long-term actions prioritized by need and feasibility, including regard for safety of citizens and first responders.
  • Recovery is a long-term, iterative process – meaning that recovery takes place in multiple phases with each phase informing activities in subsequent phases.


  • Resilience planning in the recovery period is about making a place better able to absorb and rebound from shocks to systems in the future.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines resilience as: The ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions.
  • Resilience includes the ability to withstand and recover from deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring threats or incidents.


Recovery Support Functions 

Disaster recovery is the fourth phase of FEMA’s disaster framework, which also includes preparation/mitigation, response, and assistance. FEMA uses six Recovery Support Functions (RSFs) to organize recovery: the Community Planning and Capacity Building RSF is the foundation of the other five: Housing, Health & Social Services, Infrastructure, Economic, and Natural & Cultural Resources.



National Disaster Recovery Framework

The National Disaster Recovery Framework (background image) illustrates the time-frames and phases associated with disaster recovery, which includes:

  1. Response: Short Term (days)
  2. Transition: Intermediate (weeks to months)
  3. Long-Term Recovery: Long-Term (months to years)

The County of Hawaii Recovery Action Planning Process (foreground image) illustrates how the County is taking a phased approach to determining Priorities, Objectives, and Strategies, while prioritizing actions throughout. 

recovery timeline

Recovery Collaboration

  • Coordinated by local government, recovery also requires a foundation of shared understanding and collaboration between many stakeholders - or partners with a stake in recovery outcomes - including but not limited to: federal, state, and county government, individual residents and communities, and businesses, organizations and coalitions.


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