Huiping Li and Steven J Fernandez
National Response Plans have emphasized the need for interoperability of plans, systems, technology, and command structures. However, much less emphasis has been placed on equally important at-risk populations’ response to those plans. This study attempts to characterize the impact on resilience (recovery) of metropolitan areas by the presence (or absence) of separate small communities within a larger jurisdiction. We tested the hypothesis that urban areas composed of aggregation of smaller, self-contained communities experience slower recovery from natural disasters than more integrated communities as part of an overall effort to define and build resilience to natural disasters. A resilience index was created following the Political, Security, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Informational (PMESII) framework, and was tested using the socioeconomic data from Katrina-affected areas in Mississippi and Louisiana. A correlation analysis then investigated the relationship between racial geography, economic growth and natural disaster resilience. Results indicate the existence of segregated micro ethnic communities negatively correlates with resilience, and that economic capability correlates positively. The positive correlation coefficients of the total number of general-purpose government and the total general revenue per capita of county governments with the resilience indices suggest the importance of government involvement and government capacity in resilience construction. Neither the intergovernmental transferred revenue nor the general revenue from total tax significantly correlated with the resilience indices, implying that both the financial assistance from federal and state government and the fiscal revenue supported by the private economy are vital. The quantitative indicators of natural disaster resilience provide guidance for vulnerable communities to improve their processes. We hope to provide insights to improve future plans by policymakers developing comprehensive plans to build resilient communities and examine the relationship between racial geography, economic growth and restoration of essential socioeconomic activities.