Prioritizing Disaster Recovery Projects Through a Social Resilience Lens

Five years after Superstorm Sandy, dune plantings border a broad concrete boardwalk separating residential buildings, left, from the beach in Rockaway Beach in the Queens borough of New York City.

Five years after Superstorm Sandy, dune plantings border a broad concrete boardwalk separating residential buildings, left, from the beach in Rockaway Beach in the Queens borough of New York City. Kathy Willens / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Fostering social cohesion post-emergency is just as important as rebuilding infrastructure stronger.

The Beach 41st Street Houses community garden in Rockaway, Queens was washed away by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a hurricane that devastated parts of New York City and other low-lying coastal areas in the mid-Atlantic. Since then, the community garden has been the focus of a social resilience project that’s concluding this year.

Residents of the public housing units had cultivated vegetables and flowers in the garden for two decades, so social scientists with the U.S. Forest Service teamed with Cornell University researchers to rebuild the space.


All the while, they’ve been studying the role nature plays in improving people’s well-being following a disturbance like a hurricane or, in New York City’s recent history, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“This was an opportunity for the community to assess, talk and process what happened to them and choose the ways they wanted to reknit their community,” Erika Svendsen, a Forest Service research social scientist,” told Route Fifty by phone.

In that way, the site—with its four midstory towers and large open space—became a microcosm for the recovery process.

Community greening of the garden grounds and its 30 plots was overseen by a squad of landscape designers, artists and local organizers. Flower beds were elevated and filled with salt-tolerant plant, a pergola was handbuilt through a paid woodworking apprenticeship and trash and debris were cleared.

Volunteer organizations like the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance were connected with the city’s Resident Greening Committee to promote neighborhood environmental stewardship.

Often, resilience that involves improving biophysical features like wetlands or dunes to protect coastline and reduce flooding is favored over resilience as a platform for social cohesion.

“It was less hardening and more strengthening the social ties to withstand a storm like this in the future,” said Lindsay Campbell, Forest Service research social scientist. “We didn’t have the budget to reengineer the shoreline.”

Social resilience is a different lens with which to prioritize disaster recovery projects, Svendsen said.

While the Forest Service is wrapping up its presence on the ground, it’s publishing a short documentary by partner the TKF Foundation and a book, “Green Readiness Response, and Recovery: A Collaborative Synthesis,” that will feature the Beach 41st Street Houses among other case studies from across the country.

Officials in Joplin, Missouri worked with New York officials on the project. In 2011, the southwest Missouri city was hit by a tornado that killed 158 people. A garden was developed as a memorial to the lives and tree canopy lost.

“Recovery timelines are long, and people need these sorts of spaces for remembrance,” Campbell said.

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Scalable Strategic Plan Model Ensures Alignment & Efficiencies Across 30 Buncombe County Departments
Asheville, NC, USA
Citizens & Town Officials Form Consensus to Update 20-Year Strategic Priorities for Lake Lure, NC
Lake Lure, NC, USA
Budgeting for Climate: The City of Pittsburgh Repurposes Resources for a Sustainable Future
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

NEXT STORY: Innovation and Urban Inequality Go Hand in Hand

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.