1st Edition

U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century From Disaster to Catastrophe

    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century: From Disaster to Catastrophe explores a critical issue in American public policy: Are the current public sector emergency management systems sufficient to handle future disasters given the environmental and social changes underway? In this timely book, Claire B. Rubin and Susan L. Cutter focus on disaster recovery efforts, community resilience, and public policy issues of related to recent disasters and what they portend for the future.

    Beginning with the external societal forces influencing shifts in policy and practice, the next six chapters provide in-depth accounts of recent disasters— the Joplin, Tuscaloosa-Birmingham, and Moore tornadoes, Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the California wildfires. The book concludes with a chapter on loss accounting and a summary chapter on what has gone right, what has gone wrong, and why the federal government may no longer be a reliable partner in emergency management.

    Accessible and clearly written by authorities in a wide-range of related fields with local experiences, this book offers a rich array of case studies and describes their significance in shifting emergency management policy and practice, in the United States during the past decade. Through a careful blending of contextual analysis and practical information, this book is essential reading for students, an interested public, and professionals alike.

    1. Introduction

    Claire B. Rubin

    2. Tipping Points in Policy and Practice

    Susan L. Cutter

    3. As Tornado Outbreaks Become More Deadly, Major Changes Happen

    Lucy Arendt, Jane Cage, and Renee White

    4. Hurricane Sandy: The New York City Experience

    Donovan Finn

    5. Hurricane Harvey: Issues for Urban Development

    Ashley D. Ross

    6. Hurricane Irma and Cascading Impacts

    Christopher T. Emrich, Sergio Alvarez, Claire Connolly Knox, Abdul A. Sadiq, and Yao Zhou

    7. California Wildfires

    David Calkin, Karen Short, and Meg Traci

    8. Hurricane Maria: Fragile Settings and Catastrophic Destruction

    Jenniffer M. Santos-Hernández, Ashley J. Méndez Heavilin, and Génesis Álvarez Rosario

    9. Loss Reduction and Sustainability

    Melanie Gall

    10. Summary and Looking Backward and Forward

    Susan L. Cutter and Claire B. Rubin


    Claire B. Rubin has more than 40 years of experience in the field of emergency management, having worked as an independent researcher, academic, practitioner, and consultant. As a consultant, she has worked for many organizations — private, non-profit and government. Her work includes basic and applied research; the development and presentation of training programs; and the creation and operation of various information dissemination and utilization projects. From 1998-2014, Ms. Rubin was affiliated with the Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; she was a research associate and adjunct faculty member there. For the past nine years, she has maintained the blog RecoveryDiva.com. She has published about 100 articles and given many lectures at professional conferences. Rubin is the co-founder and former Managing Editor of The Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which is now in its 14th year of publication.

    Susan L. Cutter is Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina and director of the Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute. She is a nationally and internationally recognized scholar publishing more than 14 books and 175 refereed articles and book chapters. Her primary research interests are in the area of vulnerability and resilience science and how they influence place-based differences in disaster recovery. Cutter is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a former president of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA). She served on many national advisory boards and committees, including those of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and was a juror for the Rebuild by Design competition for Hurricane Sandy Recovery Projects. She also is an elected a foreign member of the Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters. She received her master’s and doctorate in geography from the University of Chicago.

    "This wonderful, important book is timely. Catastrophic disasters do not just happen; they are made. Based on careful presentation of facts and development case studies on disaster recovery, U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century discloses why loss to disasters is growing, even though research over the past few decades has improved our understanding of the causes of loss. This book thoughtfully proposes how remedies might be pursued. A must read." — Philip Berke, Research Professor, UNC Coastal Resilience Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    "Disasters are deeply personal, disrupting and displacing families. This team drills into the full range of human experiences amid natural disasters, laying out the critical questions our Nation must answer as the weirdness of climate marches forward." — Roy Wright, President & CEO, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

    "U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century, edited by Rubin and Cutter (two of the most influential voices in disaster science and emergency management of our time) and sporting an impressive, multi-disciplinary line up of chapter authors, is an indispensable, well chosen collection of studies that manages not only to drill down deeply in examining some of the major disaster events since the turn of the millennium, but also to place them in a broader historical, scientific, socio-technical and political context. This volume provides unique insights into the practical and scientific challenges faced by the United States government, communities, and academia over the last two decades. The volume highlights the disruptive and deeply unfortunate impacts of inequality, mounting political division and political-administrative turbulence and points to the urgency of changing course for a more sustainable and resilient future." — Eric Stern, Professor of Political Science, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, & Cybersecurity, University at Albany

    "This excellent volume is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of emergency management and disaster resilience in the United States. Calling attention to the flawed policies, deficiencies and inefficiencies of our modern emergency management systems, and the indefensible human consequences, the authors provide a path forward for future leaders, policymakers, and practitioners. Most importantly, the volume makes the case for urgent action and also points the way by calling attention to the need for changes in "our electoral politics, in our understanding of science, and in the value we ascribed to community service and helping others." U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century should be required reading in emergency management programs in higher education throughout the U.S." — Jane Kushma, Professor of Emergency Management, Director of JSU Center for Disaster and Community Resilience, Jacksonville State University in Alabama

    "The volume’s great value is in its state-of-practice review of successes and failings, including what we know has worked, the essential stepping stones for improving our nation’s emergency preparedness." — Donald Watson, author of Design For Flooding: Resilience to Climate Change (2011), editor of the web-based resource, Organizations Addressing Resilience and Sustainability, www.theOARSlist.com