Link to: ReadinessLink to: ResponseLink to: Recovery


Disaster recovery refers to the long-term adaptation a community makes. Preparedness for future disasters should be included in the recovery process, and the principles that apply to preparedness are important for long-term recovery. Recovering communities should provide a range of affordable housing options, both restoring pre-disaster units like manufactured home parks whenever possible and developing new, disaster resistant affordable housing. An important part of recovery is developing an inventory of permanently affordable housing available and affordable to affected families. Mortgage assistance, disaster unemployment benefits, assistance with food and other expenses and crisis counseling are essential. A rural community’s ability to plan and have access to resources greatly affects how quickly it can recover from a natural disaster and build up resiliency for the future. Disaster recovery is often laid out as a step-by-step process, when really, it is fluid and can be unique for every community experiencing it. Like the five stages of grief, the steps of recovery are not necessarily linear.

The goal is for rural communities to be resilient, with the ability to withstand future disasters and adapt to or recover from hazards and come back stronger. We cannot control a natural disaster; however, we can control how we prepare and respond. Data and analytics can help. Well-intended policies and practices sometimes have unintended consequences, but we want to limit these adverse effects. It is important to ensure that short-term and long-term disaster assistance and recovery are equitably distributed to all segments of the community regardless of income, race, ethnicity, immigration status or homelessness and that the elderly and people with disabilities are not omitted from the equation.

Jennifer Gray Thompson highlights the efforts of After the Fire to support communities in the American West to recover from fire, rebuild their lives, and reimagine a more resilient future through prevention, innovation, and facilitation of community-designed recovery.

Recovery Resources

Success Stories of Rural Resilience

Weed Community Center

Fast Fundraising

In an alarming 120 minutes, the Boles Fire disaster on September 15, 2014 in Weed, CA destroyed 143 homes, 2 churches, several nonprofits and businesses – including Siskiyou County’s food bank pantry, the Weed Library, Head Start offices and the Weed Community Center. It also severely damaged the Roseburg Forest Products mill, displacing some 60 workers while leaving almost one third of the town’s property owners and renters alike without a house to go home to.

With a credible history of helping Siskiyou County nonprofits and organizations, the Shasta Regional Community Foundation set up a fund that provided an immediate means to deliver monetary assistance efficiently and effectively to the nonprofits and organizations serving the families and organizations impacted by the fire while working closely with the local Weed Long Term Recovery Group.

From anonymous donors, to kids emptying their piggy banks out of compassion came a heartwarming response where in just 8 hours nearly $22,000 was raised! $444,228.42 in total grants have returned to the community as of the one year anniversary of the event. 100% of donated funds for the Boles Fire Disaster Relief go directly to provide assistance and continue to be distributed towards the town’s rebuilding and recovery efforts.

East Kentucky Flood

Watch, listen, read, get updates, donate.

A documentary film by the Center for Rural Strategies, “East Kentucky Flood” tells the stories of those who endured the flood — including the life-saving actions of a firefighter in Whitesburg and the rebuilding of an independent grocery store in Isom — revealing not just what happened in July 2022, but what lies ahead for communities across East Kentucky.

The Rapido Model: Disaster Preparation to Improve Disaster Recovery

Texas nonprofit partnership develops innovative disaster recovery model.

By Nick Mitchell Bennett and Omar Hakeem

RAPIDO is a holistic housing recovery approach that allows Texas residents to return to their communities in days, not months, after federally declared disasters. RAPIDO creates a bottom-up, community-based approach that is centered on the families. The design process examines not only architectural issues but every level of the process, specifically the social, economic and political contexts that make up a disaster scenario.

Driving Change in Disaster Recovery

GSE improves program to serve disaster-affected families.

By Timothy Carpenter

According to a recent poll conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Project Porchlight, nearly 60 percent of American adults have experienced a natural disaster and over 70 percent of those experienced a financial burden as a result. While there are numerous studies to cite about the impacts of disaster, I don’t think numbers tell the whole story. The real impact is also personal and emotional — and measured in the way people and communities respond, adapt and rebuild. Our work at Fannie Mae is focused on these broader effects of disaster.

Tell Your Story

Rural communities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of disasters due to remoteness and limited infrastructure. But this vulnerability, along with a greater sense of community connectedness, offers opportunities for dynamic “outside the box” responses to disaster recovery. We are excited to use these stories as sources of inspiration and learning for other organizations facing disaster response and recovery. HAC will always contact you before sharing your information.


Emergencies can happen at any time to any organization.
Is your organization prepared to respond?

Rural Resilience was made possible in part by support from Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo Logo

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