Envisioning "Complete Recovery" as an alternative to "Unmitigated Disaster"

This paper describes the recovery of Enschede, a city in the Netherlands that suffered from a huge explosion and was rapidly rebuilt, and contrasts to the disaster management of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast of the United States.


AUTHORS: Fred Bosman; Henk Bakker; Pieter de Wit; Eric Noorthoorn; Robert Fullilove; Mindy Thompson Fullilove.


PUBLISHED: Souls 9; Columbia University, 2007.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused massive damage throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States. While the disaster itself caused many deaths and billions of dollars of destruction, the grave failures of disaster relief and post-disaster rebuilding have eclipsed the storm in the damage they have done. By contrast, after a massive explosion destroyed the Roombeek neighborhood in the town of Enschede, The Netherlands responded with a broad national consensus on the need to rebuild and the right of all residents to return to the devastated area. Deep community engagement provided the basis for planning. An awareness of social process helped keep cooperation and teamwork going well, even after the post-disaster "honeymoon" phase was over. These and other strategies ensured the town's successful recovery. By 2007, seven years after the original disaster, he devastated area had been rebuilt in a manner that respected both the great tragedy that occurred and the people's vision for its future.



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