The Need for Longer-term Services after Disasters

Source: Elaine Morley, Carol J. De Vita, The Urban Institute, August 31, 2007

The anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina and the attacks of 9/11 will likely bring renewed attention to our nation’s preparedness to address large-scale disasters, whether natural or man-made. Indeed, in the years since these events, the media, policymakers, and the public have given considerable attention to this topic. However, attention has generally focused on preparedness for immediate and short-term responses to disaster. Such responses are, of course, critical. We suggest that attention also should be focused on longer-term recovery assistance following major disasters. Those who are directly involved in such traumatic events and suffer associated personal and property loss are likely to need assistance for years after the disaster–long after immediate and short-term response has ended. Much of the continued assistance needed falls within the realm of social services, such as mental health services, case management, and, for some, employment-related services.

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