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The Beatles might have gotten it right.

When disaster strikes, you truly do get by with a little help from your friends, according to a new report co-authored by Ann Lesperance, director of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Northeastern University Seattle campus.

“Many times in emergency management we think about the physical activities that need to be done, expanding this, building that, shoring up this. But there’s a whole other side that we could easily do that can also enhance the recovery process,” says Lesperance, who is also director of the Northwest Regional Technology Center for Homeland Security at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

There’s a growing consensus among emergency response researchers that in communities where social ties are strong and there is a sense of connectedness, residents are more readily able to rebound after a disruptive event such as an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, or illness. So the Federal Emergency Management Agency asked a committee of experts in hazard mitigation, community resilience, engineering and disaster recovery (including Lesperance) to distill that body of research in order to inform emergency managers how they might build resilience within a community. The resulting report was published in May by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

“Researchers have found that bringing people together, creating that sense of community and identity—no matter what it is—will enhance response and recovery,” Lesperance says.


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