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Community Health: Disaster Recovery Plan

Healthy People 2020 Goals

  • Boosting lifespans and quality of life
  • Eliminating health disparities between groups
  • Ensuring healthy physical and social environments
  • Supporting health across life stages
  • First two goals are plan priorities

Note: Healthy People 2020 is a government initiative aimed at improving health for all groups. Its objectives are raising length and quality of life, achieving health equity, ensuring healthy environments, and supporting health across life stages. The disaster recovery plan must focus on the first two objectives, reducing disparities between groups while protecting length and quality of life.

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Disparities in Disasters

  • Disasters exacerbate existing health disparities
  • Poorer communities are more affected
  • Elderly and disabled people are vulnerable
  • Causes: unequal healthcare access, health problems
  • Most vulnerable: elderly, disabled, homeless, migrants

Note: Disasters can exacerbate existing disparities in health outcomes between groups. Poor and rural communities, ethnic minorities, elderly, and disabled people all suffer disproportionately during disasters (Jerolleman, 2019). Those disparities arise from poorer health and inferior access to healthcare. A vicious cycle can emerge when successive disasters make such communities poorer and more vulnerable (Finucane et al., 2020). Elderly, disabled, and homeless people and undocumented migrants are the main vulnerable groups in Valley City.

Community Resources

  • Insufficient financial resources for disaster response
  • Budget cuts may lead to downsizing
  • Capable but poorly organized personnel
  • Ageing equipment and inadequate supplies
  • Better coordination may mitigate deficits

Note: Valley City can make up for limited financial resources with social and human capital. The city and the hospital face budget cuts that may lead to layoffs of essential personnel. The hospital staff and first responders are talented and dedicated but poorly organized. Supplies and equipment are inadequate, but nearby organizations may share theirs. Redressing those issues through improved coordination would significantly enhance the community’s resilience.

Policy Impact

  • Policies provide planning and funding framework
  • Stafford Act establishes federal involvement
  • DRRA emphasizes preparedness and resilience
  • Both direct funds towards pre-disaster measures
  • ADA provisions require equitable response

Note: Any response plan must consider government disaster policy and legislation. The Stafford Act regulates federal involvement in disaster response and encourages preparedness (Jerolleman, 2019). The Disaster Recovery Reform Act directs more funds towards pre-disaster mitigation (Colker, 2020). The Americans with Disabilities Act establishes the need for non-discriminatory disaster relief. Such legislation provides a framework for devising and funding a recovery plan.

Key Individuals

  • Mayor and disaster response team
  • Hospital administrator Jennifer Paulson and colleagues
  • Police and fire department chiefs
  • Financial officers of involved agencies
  • Administrator of FEMA Pete Gaynor

Note: Developing and implementing the plan will require the cooperation of several key individuals. The mayor and their task force hold ultimate responsibility for the disaster response. Chief executives of local hospitals and fire and law enforcement departments must coordinate their organizations’ actions, with financial officers arranging logistics. FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor is responsible for federal assistance during preparations and relief.


  • Authorities: mayor, city council, FEMA
  • Frontline agencies: hospitals, firefighters, police
  • Citizens: community leaders, entrepreneurs, influencers
  • Establish protocols and chain of command
  • Authorities lead but listen to others

Note: Mobilizing a coalition of stakeholders is vital to the plan’s success. Stakeholders include local and federal authorities and frontline agencies in and near the city. The plan also requires the participation of citizens, including community leaders, entrepreneurs, and influencers (Rayamajhee et al., 2020). Collaboration protocols and a chain of command should be set up in advance to avoid chaos (Jerolleman, 2019). However, the authorities should be open to input from other participants.


  • Overall goal: minimize damage to all
  • First responders need leadership, material support
  • Plan to avoid inequitable harm
  • Undersheltered and disabled are at risk
  • Communication barriers exist with non-English-speakers

Note: The community needs to identify the needs of all its members to reduce damage and distress. First responder organizations require leadership, financial, material, and personnel support. Understanding the particular circumstances of disadvantaged groups is critical for minimizing inequitable harm. Disabled, homeless, and under-housed people are at increased physical risk during disasters. Language and cultural barriers place non-English-speaking residents at a disadvantage.

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  • Planning must be systematic and sensitive
  • Prevent unintentional effects through preliminary assessments
  • Minimize damage to specific community interests
  • Recognize and address communication issues
  • Prioritize physical safety of unsheltered, disabled

Note: Overcoming disparities in disaster recovery requires a thorough and culturally competent approach. Planning must incorporate equity impact assessment to avoid inadvertently damaging specific communities’ interests during preparations or recovery (Finucane et al., 2020). Communication barriers, whether with non-English-speakers or with deaf individuals, should be recognized. The physical safety of vulnerable groups must be a priority.


  • Accelerated, simultaneous mobilization, assessment, and planning
  • Adjust collaboration through drills and responses
  • Train volunteers to raise disaster competence
  • Execute material preparations with available resources
  • Engage interpreters to overcome communication barriers

Note: Community mobilization, assessment, and planning shall begin within the next two weeks. Over the first two months, drills or emergencies would allow participants to address collaboration issues (Finucane et al., 2020). Agencies will train volunteers to replace staff and improve community disaster competence (Colker, 2020). They will seek out government or non-government funding to improve material preparedness, such as vulnerable group shelters. Culturally sensitive interpreters will help overcome communication barriers and engage susceptible groups.


  • Follow-up analysis of community outcomes
  • Tracking vulnerability factors (health, wealth)
  • Solicit feedback from diverse groups
  • Holistic examination of plan outcomes
  • Mitigate consequences and adjust practices

Note: Follow-up studies over six months will assess the plan’s results. Analysts will compare disadvantaged community outcomes to initial equity impact assessments. Relevant factors such as healthcare access and socioeconomic status will be tracked to identify any possible ill effects from measures taken. City and agency planners should solicit verbal feedback from diverse sources. Stakeholders would use the final holistic assessment to mitigate undesired consequences and adjust their practices.


Colker, R. M. (Ed.). (2020). Optimizing community infrastructure: Resilience in the face of shocks and stresses. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Finucane, M. L., Acosta, J., Wicker, A., & Whipkey, K. (2020). Short-term solutions to a long-term challenge: rethinking disaster recovery planning to reduce vulnerabilities and inequities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(2), 482.

Jerolleman, A. (2019). Disaster recovery through the lens of justice. Springer.

Rayamajhee, V., Storr, V. H., & Bohara, A. K. (2020). Social entrepreneurship, co‐production, and post‐disaster recovery. Disasters. Web.

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