Natural Disaster Recovery
Expertise for Managing Construction Projects During Unpredictable Times
Disasters are an unfortunate part of life. Whether disasters arise from natural causes, such as hurricanes or floods, or are human-initiated, such as an explosion or a terrorist attack, the infrastructure systems that allow civilization to function normally are disrupted. This means that housing, electrical systems, roads, bridges and similar systems must be restored to prevent loss of life or spread of disease, and enable a return to normalcy as soon as possible.
For the most part, these repairs are accomplished by construction companies operating under special contracts and methods. Because Florida Tech is situated in a hurricane-prone environment our construction management program offers concentrated study in the specialized skills needed for natural disaster recovery.
As society becomes more complex, so does post-disaster recovery. Communities function with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders including government agencies, private and non-profit organizations, community groups and citizens. A project manager, capable of organizing all of these diverse interests into an effective reconstruction process, is essential to a rapid and successful recovery. These professionals must understand the difference between conventional and recovery projects, meet a unique set of demands and organize resources, equipment, staff, and a host of other concerns to restore infrastructure systems as quickly as possible.
Construction management students must gain insight into the unique scenarios that must be managed during a disaster-related reconstruction project. For this reason, Florida Tech incorporates natural disaster recovery methods into normal classroom instruction. Students develop a thorough understanding of how normal construction phases must be accelerated during natural disaster recovery operations.
Phase I of a natural disaster recovery is designed to provide emergency relief to personnel in danger and to restore essential community support systems such as electricity, transportation and medical. This phase consists primarily of removing debris and structures that are no longer safe to allow restore utilities and enable other recovery operations. These actions save lives and eliminate dangers.
In Phase II a survey of all damaged infrastructure systems is conducted. Projects are prioritized, contracts are developed and reconstruction begins. Operations in Phase II must also move quickly and therefore specialized construction methods must be applied.
Unpredictability is inherent with any disaster and a trained construction manager must be flexible enough and confident enough to make decisions that support an accelerated timeline but also maintain quality and budget standards. For this reason, Florida Tech includes natural disaster recovery operations as an integral part of the construction management program.
Professional disaster recovery managers are trained to:
- Document the damage associated with any disaster, taking photographs and video if necessary to assist for insurance claims and support the reconstruction schedule and budget
- Manage debris removal
- Communicate with a team of professionals, stakeholders, EMS officials and others who are part of the natural disaster recovery management
- Advise on a host of factors including safety, health, environmental contamination, building regulations, working around telecommunications outages, labor shortages, risk management, and vulnerability assessments
- Locate and mobilize contractors, equipment and materials to initiate reconstruction
- Develop cost estimates for infrastructure repairs and project management operations
- Constantly evaluate plans and make changes as conditions change
One of the most important tools a construction manager can offer to clients and customers is the design of a natural disaster recovery plan that can be preapproved and put into action whenever a disaster event occurs. Having thought out the many alternatives for disaster recovery in advance helps construction managers and owners better prepare for and react to these situations.