- Adaptive strategies of urban disaster recovery planning   click here to open paper content290 kb
by    Kammerbauer, Mark | info@transarchitecture.org   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Contradictions between recovery planning and urban master planning emerged
in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Citywide Recovery Plan
had to support rebuilding, while the 2030 Masterplan advocated growth and
improvement. What role do existing conditions and the scale of disaster
play for this process?
This contribution deals with contradictions between recovery planning and
urban master planning in the case of the mega-disaster in New Orleans after
Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While recovery planning is intended to enable a
'return to normal', urban master land use planning is aimed at an
alteration or transformation of a given situation. In New Orleans the
Citywide Recovery Plan had to adapt to the aftermath of disaster and
support rebuilding the city, while the 2030 Masterplan advocated growth and
improvement. Which contradictions emerge, and what role do existing
conditions as well as the scale of disaster play for this process? Here,
particular spatial, institutional, and social aspects of urban disaster
seem critical.

Literature on the city and disaster form separate discourses, yet both
bodies of knowledge include theories on social disparities, i.e.
stratification and vulnerabilities. A correlation of these concepts in the
case of an urban disaster enables a critical view of policy frameworks and
goals of US emergency management, e.g. the Stafford Act's 'return to
normal' paradigm. To study these interrelated aspects, an integrated
research perspective is proposed that deals with the rebuilding of cities
after natural disaster in regard to existing social disparities and
institutional recovery plans and programs.

The basis of this theoretical integration are socio-spatial perspectives,
according to which the built environment and the societies and communities
that inhabit it exist in a permanent state of interaction (cf. Gottdiener
M., Hutchison R.: The New Urban Sociology. Boulder: Westview, 2006; Hofman
S., Oliver-Smith A.: Catastrophe & culture: the anthropology of disaster.
Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 2002 eds). In this case,
planning for urban disaster recovery is identified as normative instrument
of rebuilding and distinct object of inquiry (cf. Fainstein S., Campbel S.:
Readings in Planning Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 2003 eds; Rodriguez H.,
Quarantelli E., Dynes R.: Handbook of Disaster Research. New York: Springer
Science + Business Media, 2006 eds).

The contribution features data from the author's empirical long-term case
study based on mixed-method quantitative and qualitative research. A
quantitative questionnaire survey conducted in 2007 with an impacted
population in a particularly hard-hit area of the city, the Lower Ninth
Ward, serves to indicate vulnerabilities related to societal and spatial
aspects and the capacity to recover and rebuild. Qualitative interviews
were conducted in 2009 with key individuals in federal, state, and local
institutions and planning authorities involved in the recovery process.
Their integrated observation permits identifying weak links between
spatial, social, and institutional aspects.

In relation to existing conditions as well as the scale of disaster,
recovery planning is required to adapt and transcend the 'return to normal'
paradigm and propose improvements that may contradict objectives of urban
master planning and vice versa.Questions of density of impacted
neighborhoods emerge against the background of existing urban shrinkage
processes. These are indicated bythe case study area's massive population
loss and low rebuilding rates, related to vulnerabilities, stratification,
and lacking capacity to rebuild. Recovery planning in New Orleans adapted
to these circumstances while the 2030 Masterplan permitted potentially
unsustainable development in low-density neighborhoods.

Related to ongoing risk, this contribution intends to discussknowledge-
based planning recommendations that enable a balance between existing
conditions and necessary adaptation and improvement to support quick, yet
also sustainable and resilient recovery in the case of urban mega-
disasters. Its approach is applicable to cases of urban disaster in the USA
and adaptable to other (global) cases of coastal and peri-coastal
metropolises subject to (hydro-meteorological) risk by taking the
particular spatial, institutional, social context into account.
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