The tragedy is Queensland is being mitigated to a great degree by the actions of public officials as they commence the recovery process. It is important that the principles that guide the recovery be articulated early and clearly. These are:
1. Develop a very clear process for continuous engagement and listening. The physical manifestations of any disaster are short lived, a few years. But the trauma of the events live in the hearts and minds of people who experienced may scare for life. A long-term well developed program with various levels of help for residents, workers and volunteers has to be established and funded to meet the on going mental health crisis.
2. Re-establish security in all areas affected as soon as possible. Nothing provides greater confidence to citizens than police security, re-establishing power, opening schools and restoring the normal functions of government as soon as possible and in a form to fit the situation.
3. Examine the depth of the economic shock and move quickly to repair basic economic functions or firms that move away temporarily will stay away permanently. Every disaster economy is transformed by the shock and it is wise to look to future and not past economy to fashion the way forward post crisis.
4. Re-build and future proof the regional infrastructure which includes greening and decentralizing basic delivery mechanism like power and water and hardening essential infrastructure.
5. Establishing a community sustainable re-building program that places dwelling units in a better position to survive not just the current form of disaster but the larger long term impacts of climate change by examining locational issues, housing design and housing capacity to withstand changing climatic conditions.
Edward J. Blakely is Honorary Professor of Urban Policy at the United States Studies Centre, Sydney University.
Professor Blakely is an international expert on urban planning and development and most recently head of recovery in New Orleans. He also served as the Chair of the Sydney Metropolitan Plan Reference Panel 2003-2004. He can be heard on the radio Sunday nights at 8PM on internet radio 1000mikes.com.
Blakely City Talk broadcasts the same podcast anytime.