Capacity Building toward Resilience: How Communities Recover, Learn, and Change in the Aftermath of Extreme Events
When faced with natural disasters, communities respond in diverse ways, with processes that reflect the extent of damage experienced by the community, their resource availability, and stakeholder needs. Local-level processes drive decisions about mitigating future flood risks, such as if, how, and where to rebuild, as well as changes in zoning practices and public outreach programs. Because of their potentially recurring nature, floods offer an opportunity for communities to learn from and adapt to these experiences with the goal of increasing resiliency through deliberation, modification of former policies, and adoption of new policies. By following the response to the September 2013 floods in seven Colorado communities, this study investigates if, how, and why communities successfully learn from extreme events and change their local government policies to increase resilience and decrease vulnerability to future floods. We find that greater openness of post-flood decision process is associated with more in-depth deliberation, learning, and more substantive and frequent policy change.
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