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Disaster recovery funding: Enhanced understanding for improved outcomes

Ryan S. Fraser, MS, Tim Frazier, PhD, Tim Manning, MS, Erik Wood, MS


The complexities of post-disaster recovery funding present significant challenges to state and local communities, particularly with the increase in frequency and intensity of disasters triggered by climate change. This paper explores the disaster recovery funding process for which there is limited existing research. A concurrent triangulation method was utilized as the strategy of inquiry. This mixed methods approach consisted of a content review of the related literature, an analysis of the New Jersey (NJ) Transit damage from Hurricane Sandy, a case study examining NJ Transit’s unmet recovery need, and semistructured interviews with related officials. Findings suggest that improved interagency communication is required to better understand funding limitations and develop formal procedures for recovery. Despite progress, extensive gaps in disaster recovery funding remain. The analysis resulted in three key post-disaster recovery coordination findings: (1) there remains a lack of compatibility among the different federal grant programs; (2) there is an identified need for a single point of coordination to enhance the communication process; (3) a solution to recovery funding should include insurance and the private sector. Enhanced coordination mechanisms will result in improved outcomes for jurisdictions recovering from the overwhelming and cascading effects of disasters. These findings have both national and international implications.


disaster recovery funding, transportation recovery, post-disaster recovery, transit funding, FEMA, FTA, climate change adaptation

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