Beyond Preparedness And Response: The Challenges Of Long-Term Recovery

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Capitol Visitors Center
SVC 212/210
12:00PM – 1:30PM

In cooperation with the Congressional Hazards Caucus:

Senators Mary Landrieu and Ben Nelson, and
Representatives Dennis Moore, Jo Bonner, and Zoe Lofgren, Co –Chairs of the Caucus

This briefing looks beyond preparedness and response and considers long-term recovery from a disaster. In the aftermath of disasters that overwhelm preparedness efforts and local response capacities, the United States does not yet have the administrative or financial resources in place to ensure effective recovery. While federal-level preparedness is led by the Department of Homeland Security, and response by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, responsibility for long-term recovery planning and oversight remains uncertain. This briefing convenes experts in case-management, private-sector resources, and legislative affairs to discuss possible solutions to the challenges of long-term recovery with a focus on potential amendments to the Stafford Act, public-private partnerships, federal-state-local partnerships, and improved understanding of the roles, and potential roles, of key federal agencies and departments, including DHS, FEMA, and HHS. At the core of improving national capabilities for long-term recovery is defining what “long-term recovery” entails and when does response transition into recovery.


Welcome and Moderation:
Dr. Irwin Redlener, Director, NCDP, Columbia University; President & Co-Founder, The Children’s Health Fund 

Senator Mary Landrieu, Co-Chair, Congressional Hazards Caucus; Chair, Senate Disaster Recovery Subcommittee

Dr. David Abramson, Director of Research, NCDP, Columbia University; Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Laurie Johnson, AICP; Principal, Laurie Johnson Consulting & Research

Andrew Sachs, Vice President, Crisis and Consequence Management, James Lee Witt Associates a Part of GlobalOptions Group 

Speaker Biographies

Irwin Redlener, MD, Director, NCDP, Columbia University; President & Co-Founder, The Children’s Health Fund. Dr. Redlener is president and co-founder, along with singer-songwriter Paul Simon, of The Children’s Health Fund, a philanthropic initiative created to develop health care programs in some of the nation’s most medically underserved urban and rural communities. He is also a professor of Clinical Public Health and Pediatrics, as well as director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Recognized as a national expert on a range of issues, Dr. Redlener also speaks and writes extensively on national disaster preparedness policies, pandemic influenza, the threat of terrorism in the U.S., the impact and consequences of major natural disasters and related issues. Dr. Redlener has helped organize emergency response teams and managed disasters internationally and nationally--including after hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks. In 1993, Dr. Redlener served as a member of the White House Task Force on Health Reform. From 1997 through 2003, Dr. Redlener had a lead role in the development of The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Dr. Redlener received his M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine. He also holds an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York, among numerous other awards and honors. He is the author of Americans At Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared For Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now.

David Abramson, PhD, Director of Research, NCDP, Columbia University; Associate Research Scientist, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Trained in social research, population health, and health systems analysis, Dr. Abramson is the principal investigator of the Gulf Coast Child and Family Health Study, an examination of displaced and impacted families in Louisiana and Missippi. Other current disaster-related research activities include a study of the unanticipated consequences of pandemic flu, an examination of disaster preparedness as a psycho-sociological phenomenon, the measurement and mapping of social vulnerability, and an oral history of public health officials involved in Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Abramson is an Associate Editor of the AMA peer-reviewed journal, Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. From 1993 through 1996 and again from 1998 through 2005 Dr. Abramson was co-investigator and project director of a longitudinal HIV cohort study, and has written over fifty reports analyzing the system of HIV/AIDS care in the New York metropolitan area. Between 1996 and 1998 Dr. Abramson was the Senior Program Officer at The New York Academy of Medicine’s Division of Public Health. He has also served as a staff consultant to the Institute of Medicine Committee on Prenatal Transmission of HIV. A former paramedic, Abramson holds a doctorate in sociomedical sciences with a specialization in political science and a masters of public health degree, both from Columbia University.

Laurie Johnson, AICP, Principal, Laurie Johnson Consulting & Research. Laurie Johnson, AICP, brings to the team years of experience in consulting on and researching local disaster recovery management, planning, financing and implementation. Ms. Johnson has more than 17 years of professional experience in catastrophe-related consulting, management and research and has written extensively about the economics of catastrophes, land use and risk, and disaster recovery and reconstruction. She was a co-principal investigator on a decade-long comparative study funded by the National Science Foundation of the reconstruction financing and outcomes following the 1994 Northridge, California and 1995 Kobe, Japan earthquakes. During 1997, she worked with the City of Grand Forks, North Dakota to develop and implement their recovery plan following a devastating flood. Most recently, she completed an eight-year tenure at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), where she managed a global team that helped insurers integrate natural catastrophe risk knowledge within their business, and also ran a 24/7 reporting service for the re/insurance industry when large disasters struck. In December 2005, Reactions Magazine named her one of the global insurance industry's rising stars. Ms. Johnson graduated from Texas A&M University with a Master of Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Science in geophysics. She is on the Board of Directors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and the American Planning Association.

Andrew Sachs, Vice President, Crisis and Consequence Management, James Lee Witt Associates a Part of GlobalOptions Group. Andrew Sachs is Vice President of Crisis and Consequence Management at James Lee Witt Associates. Mr. Sachs is currently one of two senior management staff leading the JLWA recovery team in Louisiana. In this role, Mr. Sachs helped design and implement the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA), an entity established to coordinate overall recovery efforts, establish priorities, receive and distribute appropriated relief funds, and provide a single voice for the State on recovery issues. While in Louisiana, Mr. Sachs led the State's long-term community recovery planning effort with the 26 most impacted parishes, and developed and implemented regional and statewide planning activities designed to address issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries. Additionally, Mr. Sachs provided technical assistance and support for the State's initial implementation of the Public Assistance Program, to include resolution of critical issues and disagreements with FEMA, representation of applicant and State needs, and communications with applicants. Previously, Mr. Sachs served as the Chief of Program Outreach at FEMA. In this role he developed partnerships with private sector organizations, non-profit groups, and other agencies to influence policy design and program delivery. Mr. Sachs holds a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in business and government relations from George Washington University and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Bates College. He graduated from both programs with Honors.


Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s
National Center for Disaster Preparedness