An organizing framework of the long-term recovery process was developed, after studying first hand how 14 U.S. communities recovered from a major disaster. The framework depicts the dynamic processes that contribute to an efficient local recovery, including the three key elements identified and the inter-relationships among them. The three key elements are personal leadership, ability to act, and knowledge of what to do. Although only one of the disaster events investigated during the four-year study period was a major damaging earthquake, the framework developed appears to be useful for understanding the aftermath of many types of natural disasters. Information about an effective recovery process should be factored into earthquake hazard mitigation and preparedness efforts because sooner or later, whether we are ready or not, we will be recovering from a major earthquake.

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