Just the other day I was able to read an advanced copy of a new article by Susan Cutter and Christopher Emrich, both with the University of South Carolina. You can read the article, which compares hurricane Katrina and Sandy recoveries, on the Emergency Management site.
One of their recommendations was so good I wanted to highlight it. I know getting FEMA to change its processes would be incredibly difficult, but a state could implement this and integrate the federal staff into its processes.
The recommendation concerning disaster recovery reads like this: "A locally based 'concierge of services' would provide the equivalent of a caseworker to each affected household to help with identification of claims adjusters, contractors, permits for reconstruction and elevation [talking about flooding], added cost of compliance issues, and availability of financial resources for rebuilding. Such a concierge service (one caseworker for X households, for example) would be knowledgeable about local ordinances and requirements as well as state and federal assistance and relief programs. The suite of concierge services would help homeowners navigate through the red tape to rebuild their homes faster and better, while also reducing the frustration and psychological impacts that so often accompany recovery."
I had to smile about their use of the term "reducing the frustration" versus "eliminating" frustration. I'm sure frustration and psychological impacts will always be part of the disaster recovery process. It just goes without saying!