Long-Term Flood Recovery at Grand Forks, North Dakota: Which Recovery Sector? When Recovered? Why Recovered?

Authors: Paul Todhunter*, University of North Dakota, Enru Wang, University of North Dakota, David Flynn, University of North Dakota, Bradley Rundquist, University of North Dakota, Gregory Vandeberg, University of North Dakota
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: long-term disaster recovery, Grand Forks, flood mitigation, general principles, capital indicators, time contexts
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon A3, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Grand Forks, North Dakota’s recovery from its 1997 flood disaster is one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s shining examples of successful long-term disaster recovery. We report on our effort to examine the city’s recovery by compiling a variety of metrics with a consistent set of covariates that encompass a range of financial, process, social, and public sector themes. We find that recovery is a multi-sectoral, and multi-temporal process. Some sectors now exceed pre-disaster levels: capital assets, flood mitigation, quality-of-life, the University of North Dakota, urban redevelopment, and the downtown. Some sectors have returned to pre-disaster levels: population, number of housing units, and educational, medical, and elderly care facilities. Other sectors have not yet recovered to pre-disaster levels: housing affordability. The timing of each sector’s recovery followed different temporal lags from the initiating disaster event. We conclude that long-term disaster recovery is a multi-sectoral, multi-temporal process that is strongly dependent upon geographical scale. Grand Forks’ long-term recovery is a result of the successful application of general disaster recovery principles at the local, state, and federal levels, combined with fortuitous time- and geographic-specific contexts, which suggests that all disaster recoveries are unique events. We consider selected hazard themes – social vulnerability, community resilience, adequacy of resources, social amplification of disaster, creative destruction, time compression, floodplain development, and economic, human, political, and social capital – and their role in the city’s successful long-term flood recovery.

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