Moving On After Harvey Requires ‘Smart’ Recovery Planning

Protecting flood-prone areas and buildings, and effective land-use planning are among the tools cities can use to bounce back after the storm.

By Rhonda Fanning & Jill AmentSeptember 5, 2017 2:06 pm,

As the levels in Houston’s two main reservoirs continue to drop, many Texans have begun cleaning up their waterlogged homes. And in Baytown, Exxon is rebooting its refinery, the second biggest in the U.S. But there’s much more to do.

Susan Cutter, a leading scholar of disaster recovery, and director of the Hazards and Vulnerabilities Research Center at the University of South Carolina, says moving on from Hurricane Harvey will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Full recovery from the storm could take 10 to 20 years, Cutler says. And the urge to clean up and rebuild quickly often comes at the expense of good planning. Without a “smart” plan, areas that experience massive natural disaster lose population and industry, Cutler says.

Important steps in recovering “smart” include elevating structures in flood-prone areas, establishing land-use plans and encouraging homeowners to obtain flood insurance.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.