Photo: Symbols for Cope, Adapt, Innovate

Building Resilience: A Journey Through Disaster Recovery and Beyond

Posted on July 06, 2023 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

Dear Readers,

Disasters can take several forms, each caused by a different phenomenon. Whether threatened by hurricanes, other natural disasters, pandemics, open conflicts, or other human-made crises, we will inevitably face unforeseen challenges that threaten our safety and well-being.

Meeting immediate, essential human needs in the aftermath is crucial to life-saving response efforts. However, there is also the need to rebuild lives and livelihoods. This sort of expansive rebuilding takes time, the necessary elements of which are always unique from one disaster to another and from one community to another.

Philanthropy has a tremendous opportunity to strengthen long-term disaster recovery around the world. By taking a flexible funding approach responsive to the people, organizations, and communities navigating a large-scale disaster, individual donors and major funders can support efforts to help them emerge stronger and more resilient.

The Patterson Foundation (TPF) understands that the disaster recovery process includes three distinct phases:

  • We cope by focusing on ensuring our safety and addressing the immediate needs essential to survival.
  • We adapt to the reality of living through the disaster, adopting new systems and methods to create stability.
  • We innovate by embracing a possibility mindset and discovering fresh ways to live, work, and play.

TPF navigated all three of these phases during our own journey through the pandemic. Our experience taught us further that this recovery process is not linear — each day can present new challenges necessitating a shift between recovery phases. We certainly did during the pandemic and especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s historic landfall last year.

This edition of Beyond The Blog illustrates what’s possible when we focus on strengthening medium- and long-term rebuilding efforts while keeping our empathy antennas tuned to where people, organizations, and communities are in their own process of coping, adapting, and innovating following a disaster — ultimately helping our world recover with resilience.


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