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Disaster Recovery Project Management: Bringing Order from Chaos

Randy R. Rapp
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    Disaster Recovery Project Management
    Book Description:

    The scope of disasters ranges from man-made emergency to natural calamity, from a kitchen grease fire to a hurricane or volcanic eruption. It may be just one house that is destroyed, or perhaps a whole infrastructure system is threatened. While each type of event requires a very different scale and type of immediate response, the project management challenges that face restoration and reconstruction professionals after the emergency phase is complete are remarkably similar. Using insights acquired through decades of real-world experience, as well as from his academic research and teaching responsibilities, the author explains pertinent requirements and methods for the contractors and other professionals who bring order from chaos. The first section of the book surveys the managerial skills required to confront the range of disasters that might be encountered and the different project environments involved. The second section examines the details of project management and administration, from materials management to health and safety. The third and final section provides an overview of restoration techniques, from restorative drying to debris management and demolition. This is the first systematic presentation of the tools and skills needed for disaster recovery project management. It is designed primarily for contractors (both large and small firms), although it will also be of value for those who might hire them, the communities they serve, and their organizational partners in the disaster recovery effort. Those who are new to disaster restoration and reconstruction will find the volume particularly useful. Focused on informing the management of projects that recover the built environment, after emergency conditions sufficiently stabilize, the volume supplements and complements books devoted to conventional construction or emergency relief management.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-166-0
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. SECTION I. Introduction to Disaster Recovery Project Management

      (pp. 3-10)

      The frequencies of occurrence and impact on mankind of various natural and man-made disasters have escalated over time. As one example, confirmed by the spring 2011 outbreak of violent storms in the southeastern United States, tornado occurrences and their resultant losses are increasing (FEMA 2008, vi). Another source cites reasons for the apparent in crease in number and severity (McDonald 2003, 3):

      Increasing population compels people to move into more vulnerable regions from which they declined to live and work in earlier times.

      Economics causes decision-makers to delay or cancel necessary maintenance of the infrastructure. Then when natural events occur,...

      (pp. 11-22)

      Those who are new to disaster restoration and reconstruction project management soon learn that there can be noticeable differences between conventional construction and recovery work, although some firms thrive by doing both. Their success often hinges on understanding those differences and adjusting individual behavior, organization, and operations to the new demands. Small nuances of understanding can make the difference between good and poor decision-making.

      Many are familiar with the common labor and equipment crews for conventional construction projects. The projects develop over months or years and can be planned deliberately. Earthmoving contractors excavate and embank soil and clear and grub...

      (pp. 23-42)

      The knowledge, skills, abilities, and traits that lead to success in disaster recovery project management are similar to those that are desirable for any professional constructor or service professional. Disaster professionals should cultivate many of the same capabilities and characteristics as managers of conventional construction projects. However, they should especially ensure that they are prepared to deal with quick decision-making in the realm of uncertainty; develop empathy in client relationships; and maintain mental and physical vigor. Of course, it behooves the project management team to understand the broader project environment, whether business or technical. This chapter explores the interplay between...

  2. SECTION II. Project Management and Administration

      (pp. 45-62)

      Routinely in the public sector, and usually in the private sector, the lowest responsive and re sponsible bid is accepted by the owner as the firm-fixed price basis for contracting the work.

      Unlike public owners and agencies, private owners usually have significant latitude in deciding what they will or will not accept with regard to responsiveness and responsibility. The decisions and procedures established in the public sector have evolved to provide an open and competitive environment that merits consideration by private owners and their agents, if the owners wish to develop and maintain a reputation for fair and impartial treatment...

      (pp. 63-76)

      This chapter discusses broad issues about construction contracts in the United States. Some of the content derives from the federal sector. Courts have rendered many decisions about disputes within federal contracts, and other courts have relied upon those decisions as precedents for their own decisions. Cases differ, but underlying principles afford anyone with interest a reasonable basis for decision-making with regard to contractual issues in America. An owner must carefully consider the kind of contract, based on the optimal project delivery mechanism that will best assure timely, economical, high-quality, and safe completion of his or her work. The chapter acquaints...

      (pp. 77-96)

      Disaster recovery contractors heading to small, somewhat routine projects near their home office might not need to plan all parts of their projects as comprehensively as those who in tend to work much larger jobs many hours or days from home. However, the principles and many details discussed in this chapter will apply to both work situations. A professional who can plan well for major dislocated recovery work can expect to plan smaller and closer projects effectively. The focus of this chapter is, therefore, on preparation associated with deployment to major disaster restoration and reconstruction work.

      Dwight Eisenhower cautioned that...

      (pp. 97-118)

      A common adage for conventional construction is that the owner can have a quick schedule, a low budget, and high quality—just not all three for the same project. Supposedly only two of the three can be simultaneously achieved. This likely limitation is also expected for recovery work, except that the challenges can be much greater due to circumstances described earlier. There are usually tradeoffs among the three measures. The work can be done quicker and to higher quality, but for a significant cost increase. Reduced cost and high quality may be possible, but only with a slower schedule. Time...

      (pp. 119-138)

      Logistics might not initially capture the eager interest of recovery project professionals, but seasoned practitioners know that good logistics is essential to their success. Contracting, safety, and project controls seem to draw more attention from managers, unless they are compelled to become involved with logistical issues, say, due to delays associated with ordering and shipping necessary materials, supplies, and installed equipment. These rather mundane subjects can often be the source of the greatest heartache for contractors and owners and adversely impact the recovery schedule, budget, and quality. After a large urbanized area is devastated, demand for all sorts of construction...

      (pp. 139-156)

      Good communication results in prompt and accurate exchange of information both up and down the supervisory chain in an organization and across stakeholder boundaries among owners, contractors, and consultants. Communication occurs when information is conveyed by oral, written or symbolic forms. The person communicating should consider the four factors that influence effective message communication: the sender, the medium, the receiver, and feedback. If any of the four is inadequate, then the message will be misunderstood. As projects become larger, they involve more stakeholders with need to know about events and activities, so greater attention must be paid to keeping the...

      (pp. 157-172)

      Safety must be thoroughly considered throughout the disaster recovery project. Threats to the safety and health of employees abound in the immediate postdisaster situation. Effective safety management can become a source of sustainable competitive advantage, to the degree that competitors ignore or fail to manage it as well as they should. In addition to the planning necessary to comply in detail with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, the constructor should perform a job hazard analysis for all activities perceived to hold safety risk. A hazard is the potential for harm associated with a condition or activity that can...

      (pp. 173-180)

      Competent project managers focus on quick and effective project closeout from the moment they pursue any new project. Final payment to the contractor hinges on full and correct closeout. By the time a project winds down, the professionals assigned to the work prefer to turn their attention to the next project. Incomplete work activities and undone contract administrative tasks needlessly delay that future focus. The backward planning sequence and formal milestones for control help ensure that actions essential for closeout are performed in a timely manner. Restoration work is commonly contracted quickly. Unless the parties discipline themselves to consider all...

  3. SECTION III. Restoration Techniques

      (pp. 183-206)

      A common outcome of disastrous events is that the interiors of buildings become inundated with water. Whether from hurricane storm surge, river flooding, precipitation through the shattered building envelope, bathtub overflow, or firefighting, it is not uncommon for structural interiors to become saturated. Water contact alone harms some materials by corrosion, dissolution, or discoloration. Its density is considerable, and the loads it imposes might excessively stress an already-weakened structural system or buckle suspended drywall. Contaminants in water can waste items that might be recoverable from water alone. If uncommon levels of moisture are not removed, mold may develop in a...

      (pp. 207-212)

      The restoration contractor must address all that one encounters with water loss work, plus the effects of fire and smoke. New techniques enable more frequent and thorough restoration of structural and contents damage wrought by fire and smoke than in times past. In the United States in 2009 there were about 480,000 structural fires resulting in $7.8 billion damages to residential properties alone (Corry 2010). Among the important requirements are removal of odor and prevention of discoloration. Damage further results from water being doused on burning facilities and their contents; the common fire residues dissolve in water to create material-destroying...

      (pp. 213-226)

      Microbial remediation includes bacteria, not only mold and fungi. Many of the techniques discussed in this chapter apply to all. Much of the chapter focuses on mold. Water losses are frequent, and so, therefore, is mold damage. Organic materials in a damp, oxygenated environment with temperatures comfortable to people can be expected to sustain mold growth. People have come to understand the health risks that accompany mold growth. Once mold proliferates, the mold remediation crews of the recovery contractor become the principal effort enabling the structure to become habitable again. A broad introduction to the techniques and concerns of mold...

      (pp. 227-236)

      Much attention is devoted to disaster restoration of structural damages, but the contents of the structure will be valuable and, possibly, more valuable and harder to replace than the damaged or gutted structure. Where destruction is extensive, the need for personal property restoration during recovery may be almost nonexistent. So much personal property is destroyed or carried away that dealing with it is a minor issue. Yet even in such circumstances there can be some possessions that owners will wish to restore. Considering that modern techniques permit many items to be restored to a predisaster condition and sometimes better, well-prepared...

      (pp. 237-250)

      Large disasters create mountains of debris. The path of Hurricane Katrina was strewn with 113.5 million cubic yards of debris of all kinds—enough to create a stockpile 30-feet tall, 300-feet wide, and 64-miles long (FEMA 2008). The well-prepared recovery project manager understands the requirements imposed by his or her business opportunities and regulatory constraints. The types of debris one encounters partly hinge on whatever causes the calamity and the materials contained in damaged and destroyed infrastructure.

      Debris management is the gathering, sorting, storage, transportation and disposal or recycling of rubble, waste, destroyed materials, and other rubbish associated with a...

    (pp. 251-252)

    Considering the events of the past generation, future restoration equipment, supplies, and techniques will assuredly become more valuable. The emphasis on sustainability in construction might lead to increased specification of materials that better enable restorers to save damaged structures. Project management techniques will probably become more efficient, especially if management software is comprehensively integrated in the firm.

    It seems probable that organizations at risk for ever more frequent disasters will hire fulltime restoration staff members, both to obtain recovery work and to respond to internal events.

    Some government organizations have taken on ever-greater regulatory roles for industry activities. Some regulation...

    (pp. 259-262)