Can Decentralized Bottom-Up Post-Disaster Recovery Be Effective?

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, leaving a great deal of destruction, pain and uncertainty in its wake. Significant and centralized government involvement is often viewed as the necessary solution to the collective action problem that occurs after a major crisis. Given the government’s poor performance post-Katrina, it is fortunate that a government coordinated recovery effort is not a necessary solution to the challenges of disaster recovery. Using data from interviews with affected residents and community leaders in New Orleans after Katrina, this article explores the effectiveness of private disaster recovery efforts and whether or not there are reasons to believe that a decentralized rather than a centralized response to disasters could be more effective.

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