Natural disasters are very critical events that affect people’s lives adversely because of the devastations they cause. Such things as hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods can result in property damage and also kill people. Realizing how crucial the effects of natural disasters are, governments develop specific emergency management plans that reveal how professionals should act to minimalize adverse effects and save as many lives as possible. Urban revitalization is vital in this framework because it ensures that cities and their populations can return to normal conditions. However, it does not mean the restoration of destroyed buildings only. The fact is that the cultivation and promotion of socio-cultural relations is another crucial aspect of any urban revitalization project. Thus, the two papers selected for this work also emphasize the unique importance of social repair as the key factor that will promote the further development of communities and its efficient functioning regarding a natural disaster.
Exploring two different perspectives (small-size projects and social repair that inhibit future post-disaster recovery), the articles suggest similar ideas on the way communities should face this challenge and create the basis for their evolution. This very project will focus on revitalization associated with one of the latest hurricanes that took place in the USA. Harvey affected Houston, Texas, in the middle of the previous year and caused more than a hundred billion damage in addition to the number of lethal outcomes. Taking into consideration the fact that the state has already had a similar experience with Katrina, it is expected that it will not be lost because of this event but will respond to it effectively and efficiently. Moreover, it has an opportunity to use appropriate information taken from trustworthy sources. Focusing on two scholarly articles, this paper will discuss possibilities for a revitalization of Houston after Harvey. Additionally, it will demonstrate that social repair and cultivation of trustful relations between members of communities is a crucial aspect of urban revitalization that might determine its success and outcomes.
Synopsis of the Articles
Götz, Cooper, and Paskaleva-Shapira (2015) developed an article in which they described several cases of urban regeneration that took place in Eastern Germany. The authors believe that this information is beneficial for other countries because they can use it to enhance the condition of their cities if they face urban decay or increased immigration. In such a way, they encourage governments to pay attention to the segregation of the population because it leads to conflicts that make people change their place of living and affects the urban economy. Cities can avoid devastation only if their leaders facilitate tolerance and cultural acceptance.
Thus, governments should initiate the creation of additional places for neighbors to spend time together (playgrounds, museums, theaters, etc.). Governmental agencies should ensure that the city is full of places for education, employment, and healthcare because it is the best chance to make individuals live in a particular district. If they have good access to all vital resources, they face no necessity to look for other locations. The city image should become attractive in order to become a desired place for living. Building blocks of flats, governments can provide citizens who lost their homes with an opportunity to receive unexpansive residence. It is also beneficial because this type of building requires fewer resources in comparison to a house. Nevertheless, it is not possible to deny the fact that the stabilization of the housing market is the main point of the urban revitalization project.
Omer (2015) also expresses ideas about urban regeneration, claiming that populations experience the process of disaster recovery in different ways because of structural inequities. That is why the author encourages professionals to pay more attention to the importance of social repair in the framework of urban revitalization. Extreme poverty and injustice do not allow some people to benefit from post-disaster reconstruction processes because they return to their “normal” life that lacks modern conveniences and proper sanitation, etc. Thus, it is significant to ensure that recovery projects include initiatives aimed at the reduction of such vulnerabilities.
The social system should not enhance the situation after a natural disaster but rebuild it to reach an appropriate level of functioning and structure. It is critical to creating shelters, educational facilities, and hospitals. However, it is also significant to pay even more attention to the enhancement of access to them. That is why it is vital to focus on a social intervention that targets vulnerable communities. This approach will also cultivate the ability to cope with future disasters. Social repair allows more people to benefit from recovery projects and unites them for the future action. It ensures reduction of violence and other conflicts, giving a chance to presuppose that people will help each other in the future, following disaster management plans. Communities lead the revitalization process, so it is critical to ensure that they are united. Using post-flood Pakistan as a sample, Omer (2015) proves that people can reconstruct their homes and businesses if they work together.
Both articles urge their readers to focus on people involved in urban revitalization instead of thinking about the reconstruction of buildings. For instance, Götz et al. (2015) reveal the unique importance of small-size projects and their positive impact on the mood of people who might suffer from numerous problems in their communities. The constant engagement in social projects affects individuals positively. In other words, both these articles emphasize the necessity of measures aimed at the creation of trustful relations between victims of the natural disaster as it is the key to their survival and efficient cooperation in future. Of course, it is extremely important to restore the infrastructure and housing fund for people to have a place to live in; however, these revitalization activities should be accompanied by social repair as the central activity that helps to prevent the emergence of anarchy, chaos, wrong or hostile behaviors, etc.
Focusing on affected populations, the authors of both articles agree that they should be united and equal in order to reach the best possible outcomes of revitalization. According to the selected papers, social exclusion and segregation can lead to urban decay similar to the effects of natural disaster. Moreover, it can lead to the unequal distribution of resources needed to overcome a hurricane. Additionally, disregard of existing tension between the representatives of different layers of society might trigger an outbreak of aggression which will have a devastating impact on the area. People who had a stable economic condition before a disaster and belonged to an active part of the society should not be opposed to those who lived in poverty as it will result in discrimination. However, while Omer (2015) speaks about social repair as one of the purposes of disaster recovery, Götz et al. (2015) believe that it is critical to introduce a chain of small-size projects to engage people in them and guarantee their cooperative functioning.
Personally, I agree with the authors of the selected articles and believe that the combination of their ideas can provide an opportunity to reach the best possible outcomes of urban revitalization. Those people who suffered from Harvey should have equal access to the most vital resources such as housing and nutrition. Regardless of their social and financial condition, these individuals should receive a decent place of residence. They may have flats in building blocks or rooms in shelters as a temporary home. As a part of the reconstruction, governments should ensure that citizens have access to education, employment, and healthcare.
In this framework, they should also guarantee the construction of the associated establishments. Moreover, it is vital to create places where neighbors can spend free time together as it is critical for social repair and cultivation of positive relations between all members of the community which is vital for its successful restoration. In this way, the government will be able to facilitate social repair. Professionals can develop plans for community emergency management. Helping each other, people can practice disaster recovery effectively. Even in the framework of urban revitalization, many individuals can find a job in one of those spheres that are greatly needed (for instance, they can participate in building homes or taking care for injured people).
Thus, it is possible to conclude that in order to implement the urban revitalization project in Houston after it was affected by Harvey, governmental agencies can resort to experiences of other countries, such as Germany and Pakistan. Even though those ideas expressed by them do not focus on the same issue, provided resolutions are effective for disaster recovery practice associated with this hurricane. They should pay much attention not only to the reconstruction of housing, education, employment, and healthcare facilities but also to social repair. Avoiding inequity and injustice, professionals can benefit affected populations, ensuring that they can start living normal lives again.