Community going through stages of disaster recovery

This is when anger and resentment begins to permeate in those who feel they’ve been let down with delays and empty promises.

Welcome to the disillusionment stage.

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, a University of Southern Mississippi professor studied the recovery effort there in an attempt to define the stages of disaster recovery.

The first stage, the Heroic stage, occurs during the time of impact, when a community truly unites to do everything possible to save life and property. Certainly, this stage of selfless care was witnessed in Sicamous following the devastating June 23 debris flows in the communities of Two Mile and Swansea Point.

Next comes the tunnel vision stage, where peoples’ attention returns to their own affairs and the work ahead to clean up and repair homes, infrastructure, etc. By this point, those directly impacted by disaster are overwhelmed and exhausted.

A breath of fresh air comes in the honeymoon stage, where people are grateful for having survived and come through disaster together. Spirits are lifted with the promise of disaster relief and support. Hope grows with the idea that soon, it will all be over.

And then comes the disillusionment stage. This is when anger and resentment begins to permeate in those who feel they’ve been let down with delays and empty promises. Finger-pointing ensues, and it’s at this stage where community is at its most fragile.

This stage may last for months or years.

The final, longest stage is reconstruction/recovery, when individuals impacted by disaster realize they need to, and can, shape their own future. With  each step in this stage, enthusiasm grows as individuals are buoyed by the strength and effort of others.

This final stage, like the heroic stage, is dependent upon a strong and healthy community spirit – something to keep striving for when the honeymoon is over.