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How Community and Public Health Partnerships Contribute to Disaster Recovery and Resilience

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 February 2018

Joie D. Acosta*
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California
Lane Burgette
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California
Anita Chandra
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California
David P. Eisenman
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, California
Ingrid Gonzalez
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Preparedness and Emergency Response, New York, New York
Danielle Varda
University of Colorado School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado
Lea Xenakis
RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California
Correspondence and reprint requests to Joie Acosta, RAND Corporation, 1200 South Hayes St., Arlington, VA 22202 (e-mail:



To summarize ways that networks of community-based organizations (CBO), in partnership with public health departments, contribute to community recovery from disaster.


The study was conducted using an online survey administered one and 2 years after Hurricane Sandy to the partnership networks of 369 CBO and the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The survey assessed the structure and durability of networks, how they were influenced by storm damage, and whether more connected networks were associated with better recovery outcomes.


During response and recovery, CBOs provide an array of critical public health services often outside their usual scope. New CBO partnerships were formed to support recovery, particularly in severely impacted areas. CBOs that were more connected to other CBOs and were part of a long-term recovery committee reported greater impacts on the community; however, a partnership with the local health department was not associated with recovery impacts.


CBO partners are flexible in their scope of services, and CBO partnerships often emerge in areas with the greatest storm damage, and subsequently the greatest community needs. National policies will advance if they account for the dynamic and emergent nature of these partnerships and their contributions, and clarify the role of government partners. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:635–643)

Original Research
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2018 

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