Introduction: Recovery from disasters is a critical function of federal, state, and local governments, yet measurable, validated indicators of community recovery remain unidentified. A list of potential recovery indicators was developed by the authors through a literature review, recovery plan review, and case study of two disaster impacted communities.
Methods: To validate the indicators, qualitative data was collected from experts on disaster recovery. Twenty-one key informant interviews and two focus groups were conducted between January and April of 2014 to solicit feedback from disaster recovery practitioners and academics.
Results: Five major themes emerged from the qualitative data. These included: the flexibility of the indicators to serve multiple purposes for communities and individuals both pre- and post- disaster; the focus areas are comprehensive, but content and organization can be improved; the importance of seeing the indicators as a self-assessment, rather than a tool for comparing communities; the potential challenges of collecting data for some indicators; and the identification of potential measurement issues with the indicators.
Discussion: The proposed recovery indicators can be utilized by both practitioners and researchers to effectively track post-disaster recovery. They capture many of the complexities of community disaster recovery and provide potential opportunities for linkages to the development of disaster recovery plans and other activities that could increase community resilience in the future.