There Is No 'I' In Recovery
There's no shortage of great press about homes in Lahaina that survived the recent wildfires on account of homeowners' mitigation efforts (see https://bit.ly/48a4Zpk).
These 'lucky' homeowners sought and achieved accountability. There's no question, looking at those pictures - what they've done is impressive.
There was similar press in the aftermath of the Camp Fire when 'miracle homes' survived that similarly tragic event.
What both cases offer is irrefutable proof that resilience in the face of the climate crisis is indeed very possible. And attainable.
Yet...read between the lines in these stories.
In both events, we find that the owners of these remarkable homes do not project any sense of 'relief' or, and in most cases, they don't even seem to have hope for the future of their communities.
We have to recognize how influential values are in driving our choices on where to live.
To most people - and I believe this reflects the best in us - the intangible aspects of community life, our 'way of life', are much more important to us than any property could be.
What value if there are no jobs in the town?
What value if the neighbors and/or relatives that lived close by are gone?
What value is there to that surviving home if there is no power, water, or internet to serve it?
Disaster risk management is a community-focused endeavor. The context is collective. All households lose when a subsector within the community is unable to achieve resilience.
The values-based emergency management (VBEM) approach identifies three requirements: risk intelligence, accountability, and equity.
When only some are able to recover, as is the case in Paradise, and as will be the case in Lahaina, we have to wonder - is that because the vulnerable had the ability to be accountable but chose not to? Because they had the ability but lacked the risk intelligence to do so? Or that they couldn't have achieved accountability, even if they'd wanted to, because of one or more equity challenges they faced?
Unfortunately, the word 'resilience' is spelled with the letter I, because "there's no I in resilience!" would be a great catch phrase.
The sentiment nonetheless holds true - we can't be resilient alone.
If following a disaster, our town loses access to insurance, do we still feel justified having invested in disaster-safe methods and materials?
If our neighbors are unable to return after a disaster, do we still want to live in that disaster safe home?
If the features that brought us to the town in the first place are no longer there, would we even want to remain?
Probably not, because there is no I in recovery.