Long-Term Wildfire Reconstruction: In Need of Focused and Dedicated Pre-Planning Efforts

William S. Harris, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jin Ouk Choi, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jaewon Lim, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Yong-Cheol Lee, Louisiana State University


Wildfire disasters in the United States impact lives and livelihoods by destroying private homes, businesses, community facilities, and infrastructure. Disaster victims suffer from damaged houses, inadequate shelters, inoperable civil infrastructure, and homelessness coupled with longterm recovery and reconstruction processes. Cities and their neighboring communities require an enormous commitment for a full recovery for as long as disaster recovery processes last. State, county, and municipal governments inherently have the responsibility to establish and provide governance and public services for the benefit and well being of community members. Municipal governments’ comprehensive and emergency response plans are the artifacts of planning efforts that guide accomplishing those duties. Typically these plans include preparation and response to natural disasters, including wildfires. The standard wildfire planning includes and outlines (1) a wildfire hazard assessment, (2) response approaches to prevent human injury and minimize damage to physical property, and (3) near- and long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts. There is often a high level of detail in the assessment section, but the level of detail and specificity significantly lessons to general approaches in the long-term recovery subsection. This paper aims to document the extent of wildfire preparedness at the county level in general, focusing on the long-term recovery subsections of municipal plans. Based on the identified challenges, the researchers provide recommendations for better longer-term recovery and reconstruction opportunities: 1) building permit requirements, 2) exploration of the use of modular construction, 3) address through relief from legislative requirements, and 4) early, simple, funding, and the aid application process.