Disaster Recovery Case Discussion: After the Avengers saved the CITY

The CITY was hit by both a flood and an earthquake! The Avengers came and saved all the people and animals, and took care of all short term recovery issues.

Thanks so much Avengers!

Our superhero friends have left the CITY in charge of rebuilding and long-term recovery. The CITY has outlined two objectives for long-term disaster resilience:

  1. keep the floodplain as open space
  2. rebuild condominiums with current seismic codes.

Additionally the CITY has asked for the following report that considers characteristics of disaster recovery:

Both of the neighborhoods that compose the CITY have land that falls within the 50 year (or 2%) flood plain. The land that can be developed in neighborhood A has shrunk from 2614 m^2 to 1514 m^2, or decreased by 42%. The land that can be developed in neighborhood B has shrunk from 3840 m^2 to 1707 m^2, or by 56%. The entire CITY is still vulnerable to seismic risk, and as such all rebuilding projects will need to be built to seismic codes. There are many stakeholders that will need to be involved in order for these two hazard risks to be addressed by the CITY.

Stakeholders that need to be involved in the recovery planning and reconstruction process include:

  • the former residents of each neighborhood
    • Neighborhood A was middle class with 66 households, some of these former residents may wish to return, but some may have the opportunity to move elsewhere.
    • Neighborhood B was a retirement community with 72 households, many of these former residents may not have anywhere else to go as they likely have put their life savings into their residences in the retirement community.
    • Residents from both neighborhoods will likely be interested in receiving compensation for their lost/damaged property from insurance companies and/or buyouts/bailouts from the government of CITY.
    • Doing the math not every resident who wants to may be able to return when the CITY rebuilds the neighborhoods. Out of Neighborhood A which had 66 households, rebuilding and keeping the floodplain uninhabited will mean only ~38 households can return. Neighborhood B which had 72 households, rebuilding and keeping the floodplain uninhabited will mean only ~31 households can return. There may be a conflict between the residents over who gets to return, and how it should be decided who returns.
  • Construction companies and businesses of CITY will be interested in rebuilding the neighborhoods for profit. Construction companies/businesses may be interested in building more expensive or larger structures to replace what was lost, rather than smaller and more affordable structures that optimize the number of households that can return.
  • CITY government officials and politicians will desire to make as many of their voters as possible happy.¬† Politicians could have ties to businesses and want to please businesses by helping them get profits. Government officials¬† and politicians will likely want to make as many households happy as possible by allowing them to return.
  • CITY planners, Engineers, and Scientists working for the CITY government will be interested in rebuilding in a scientifically safe and ethical way as to benefit the most constituents. This desire to benefit the most households could conflict with business desires to make a profit. Some scientists and engineers may feel that the assessment of allowing residents to return outside the 50 yr flood plain, but perhaps within the 100 yr flood plain is a flawed decision. 50 yr floods have a 2% chance of occurring in any given year, and 100 yr floods have a 1% chance of occurring in any given year, or a 1/4 chance of occurring within a 30 year time period. Some CITY scientists and engineers may believe that Neighborhoods A and B should not be rebuilt if they fall within the 100 yr flood plain, rather than using the 50 yr flood plain as a marker. This may conflict with CITY planners and government officials desire to rebuild as much as possible. Additionally, CITY planners and government officials/ politicians may be upset to hear that mathematically not every household will be able to return. CITY planners may wish to suggest a government buyout of homes in properties that lie within the floodplain and cannot be rebuilt. Buybacks can be controversial politically and it is likely that businesses may have objections if they feel they are not benefited.

As consultants we have come up with suggestions that we feel can please most stakeholders in some way:

  1. Since not every household will be able to return create a lottery that households which desire to return can enter, as well as a buyout program for those not returning to neighborhoods A and B. The lottery should take into account how much the home was worth prior to destruction and how much the government buy back value of the property would be, giving preference to letting those with lower buy back values return to the rebuilt neighbors of A and B. This preference given will mean that former neighborhood B residents will comprise the majority of the households that will return. This will actually benefit the CITY economy since those with lower property values are unlikely to be able to afford to buy a newer home in CITY, but will let them stay as members of the retirement community, which is essential to CITY’s image and businesses which cater to retired populations. The CITY should explore the possibility of merging the two neighborhoods, though community meetings should be held to determine if residents would prefer the neighborhoods to be rebuilt separately.
  2. The buyout program will take into account how much the property was originally worth, and assuming there is more develop-able land in CITY, an extra 15-20% incentive should be added to the value households receive which sign a contract promising to buy in new neighbors built elsewhere in CITY.  This should please CITY businesses and construction companies, as well as the higher property value households (primarily from neighborhood A) who wish to still live in CITY, but would be happy to leave the neighborhood with a bit of government assistance. Although CITY government will be giving 15-20% more than the assigned buyout value to these households this money will stay within the CITY community and spur economic and infrastructure growth as new neighborhoods develop in CITY suburbs.





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