Can Disaster Recovery Research Teach Us About the Current Pandemic? (Virtual) - America's Future Foundation

Can Disaster Recovery Research Teach Us About the Current Pandemic? (Virtual)

June 30, 2020 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Online, Digital,

The popular press has been drawing repeated parallels between the Spanish Flu of 1918 and our current public health crisis to inform our potential recovery from this pandemic. However, historical, medical, and cultural differences make those comparisons a bit tenuous. Do we have more recent comparisons that might be more helpful? Mercatus’ Stefanie Haeffele argues yes!

Like the recovery from Covid-19, rebounding after disasters like tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can be daunting. Communities must have residents who can not only gain access to the resources that they need to rebuild but who can also overcome the collective action problem that characterizes post-disaster relief efforts.

Stefanie’s recent book, Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster (co-authored with Virgil Storr and Laura Grube), argues that entrepreneurs, conceived broadly as individuals who recognize and act on opportunities to promote social change, fill this critical role. Examples of recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Hurricane Sandy on the Rockaway Peninsula in New York are used to demonstrate how entrepreneurs promote community recovery by providing necessary goods and services, restoring and replacing disrupted social networks, and signaling that community rebound is likely and, in fact, underway. These same roles are proving important during the current global COVID-19 pandemic. Creating space for entrepreneurs to act after disasters is essential for promoting recovery and fostering resilient communities.

Stefanie is a Senior Fellow in the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.