06 September 2023

Houses of Straw, Sticks, & Bricks - Increasing Structural Disaster Resiliency to Wildfires, Floods, Earthquakes, Wind Events, & the Big Bad Wolf: Literature Review (2022)

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To continue with posting past schoolwork, shall we continue with my literature review conducted in 2022 while I was completing my capstone research project at the Justice Institute of British Columbia...

Houses of Straw, Sticks, & Bricks - Increasing Structural Disaster Resiliency to Wildfires, Floods, Earthquakes, Wind Events, & the Big Bad Wolf: Literature Review (2022)

V. Andrew McMillan

Justice Institute of British Columbia

ESMS-4900 Capstone

Instructor: Beth Larcombe

Advisor: Bettina Williams

Due Date: 12 June 2022 

Houses of Straw, Sticks, and Bricks – Increasing Structural Disaster Resiliency to Wildfires, Floods, Earthquakes, Wind Events, and the Big Bad Wolf: Literature Review 

The purpose of this research project is to explore the best practices of disaster endurance of the built world as part of a systems approach to improving structural disaster resiliency at the individual, community, business, and governmental level. The research will identify the standards to build right the first time, build back better, as well as address retrofitting current structures to incorporate these best practices for enhanced structural disaster resiliency to wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and wind events (tornadoes, hurricanes, cyclones), collectively referred to as the quadruple threats going forward. Finding structural disaster resilient solutions would benefit many citizens in Canada as well as others around the globe (Smith et al., 2016).

This search and review of the literature will establish a baseline of what is currently known and commonly available regarding structural disaster resiliency research. To guide this exploration, the research will seek to answer the following research questions: (a) How to improve structural resiliency to wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and wind events (tornadoes, hurricanes, cyclones)? (b) What structural or material characteristics provide greater disaster resilience to the quadruple threat? (c) How does knowing which structural or material characteristics that can provide greater resilience to the quadruple threat, contribute to enhancing resiliency in the community of existing structures requiring retrofits or renovations?

From the answers to those research questions, one expects to find solutions that contribute to hardening the four critical areas of a dwelling: the foundation; the floor, wall, and roof system; the windows and doors; and the exterior cladding/sheathing. 

Search Methodology 

The search of the literature will seek to find peer-reviewed journal articles starting with an online search. This will result in articles that provide solutions, strategies or approaches, and trends in current research. These finds will then be reviewed, digested, analysed, synthesized, and consolidated into the literature review.

The initial search involved using the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Library online search engine and Google Scholar. The first round of searching used the following search terms: (a) “Structural Resilience to Wildfires”, (b) “Structural Resilience to Floods”, (c) “Structural Resilience to Earthquakes”, and (d) “Structural Resilience to Wind Events”.

The results of the online search are shown in Figure 1. The additional articles identified as “+1” indicate a snowball sampling find from the original article’s reference list. The primary articles conform to the selection criteria, while the secondary articles provide important supporting data, such as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Seismic Hazard Map (Petersen et al., 2014), or alternate strategies like preserving coastal mangrove marshes (Sheng et al., 2022), or providing a contrary understanding of flood resilience (Liao, 2012).

The follow up search used replacement terms for wind with “tornado or hurricane or cyclone”; as well as adding a search for “most resilient design” and “built right to begin with”. These searches resulted in six more abstracts to review, however, it only added one article for further review. 

Figure 1  Literature Search Success

Selection Criteria 

There were three influencing categories of information that would determine whether an abstract would be considered for a deeper investigation and potential inclusion in this literature review, namely: (a) Dwelling structures (no more than four-stories tall, concerning “proofing” techniques, strategies, or materials, and/or effective landscaping considerations); (b) Technical aspects of: wildfire/fireproofing, flood/floodproofing, earthquake/quake-proofing, or wind events (tornadoes, hurricanes, cyclones)/wind-proofing, and/or systems theory; or (c) Previous literature review. Furthermore, the articles wanted to be recent (2015 or newer) to appraise the current status of research available for review, if available. Articles that considered more than one disaster hazard event were also of interest, as this research will consider four disaster hazards.

From these criteria and the searches of the JIBC Library and Google Scholar a total of 72 abstracts were selected. Of these, 22 articles were read and reviewed for relevance, then 20 articles were selected for further evaluation, consisting of: four articles each for wildfires, floods, and wind events; three articles for earthquakes and five secondary articles. These articles were selected as a representative sample of what researchers would find in the literature when seeking articles on structural resiliency to wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and wind events. The filter on Google Scholar provides a good understanding that the quantity of literature is substantial, although the algorithm does not necessarily extract the literature in the best order to meet the researcher’s needs. The best examples of “proofing” type articles came in the wildfire category (Quarles et al., 2010; Smith et al., 2016; & Syphard et al., 2017) as these provide explicit methods of fireproofing a structure to wildfires. Unfortunately, similar quality articles were not found for the other disaster events, however the other articles do capture components of needed information to create a system that would work to enhance resiliency of the built world against disaster events being explored. Buoyant foundations (English et al., 2021) provide a possible solution to protect buildings in flood zones, while precast concrete structures offer solutions to wildfire, wind events, and possibly to earthquakes and floods (PCI Foundation, 2017). 


Morrison et al.’s (2018) literature review provides a good starting point. The focus is on flood risk management (FRM) governance and resiliency and does a good job of summarizing the impact floods have on communities in Canada, the UK, and Australia and how important finding solutions would be for increasing flood resiliency socially, economically, and governmentally. With an interest in finding gaps in the scholarship, Morrison et al., provide current research sources, like the International Centre for Water Hazard and Disaster Risk Management (ICHARM) and the European Union STARFlood project (p. 294); which could be worth reviewing. The authors also highlight the concern of research siloing (p. 298), which supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) concern that research is not being shared adequately in the emergency management field (FEMA, 2018). Further, the article observes that the public needs to be educated and trained for adapting to the uncertainty created by disasters. This article helps identify what is known in flood resiliency which is a quarter of this research project.

Boughton et al. (2017) present a tool for evaluating building resilience to severe wind events in Australia. This paper focuses on three damage causing mechanisms – wind damage, wind driven rain, and storm surge flooding. The assessment tool uses 95 questions to establish the structural resiliency of the building (p. 1888). The assessment report card helps building owners learn if their building is at risk and what areas of mitigation to focus investments funds to improve resiliency (pp. 1890-1891). Two important factors are illuminated by the authors: (a) Meeting the national building code is only the minimum standard for life safety and does not guarantee structural survival in extreme wind events. Similarly, Stevenson et al.’s (2020) study reviewed extreme wind events in Canada and found the standards in the National Building Code of Canada needs enhancing to survive wind events equivalent to an EF-2 tornado (pp. 5-6). (b) Designers and architects can use the assessment tool during the design phase to enhance building designs resiliency to extreme wind events. Therefore, this research implies the universality of solutions to structural disaster resiliency to wind events would benefit locations around the globe.

With a focus on the importance of building materials to a structure’s survival with wildfire, Syphard et al. (2017) present a convincing argument that structural resiliency requires a system of land use policy, landscaping protocols, and selecting the correct building materials (p. 140). The authors relate this topic from their research based on wildfires in San Diego County and the County’s building code for homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI). Syphard et al. build upon previous research conducted by Quarles et al. (2010) for the University of California, motivated by the 2007 Witch Creek Fire, that destroyed two-thirds of impacted homes (p. 1). Syphard et al. make concrete-solution suggestions that if adopted, would improve structural disaster resiliency to wildfires (pp. 143-146).

Keeping with a wildfire focus, Smith et al. (2016) examine fire-resilient communities using firescapes – a risk-to-resilience framework and the relationship between people and wildfire (p. 131). This research provides case studies from the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada which demonstrates universal concern for wildfire resiliency of structures, people, and communities (pp. 132-135). Like, Morrison et al. (2018), Smith et al. share concerns for research being trapped in educational, organizational, and political silos (p. 130). The authors provide concrete examples of adaption, mitigation, and resilience (pp. 141-142); as well as explaining the relationship between the human-wildfire eco-system (pp.136-137). The infographic (p. 143) is valuable to illustrate which components are more or less vulnerable to wildfire ignition.

PCI Foundation (2017) provides industry insights into constructing disaster resiliency using precast/pre-stressed concrete building solutions. This trade publication of professional engineers and architects demonstrates that structures can be built to withstand wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and wind events. PCI’s Executive Editor, Parker, mentions the replacement hospital for Joplin, Missouri, which was destroyed by a 2011 EF-5 tornado, will be a tornado resistant structure (p. 4). This issue also introduces the United States Resiliency Council (p. 6), which warrants further investigation for possible resiliency solutions. Precast concrete structures might offer options for multi-hazard disaster resiliency, if nothing else, it offers a starting point for the discussion on potential solutions.

Lamond and Proverbs (2009) present an encouraging article on urban flood resilience. Beyond observing that flood proofing buildings are less expensive to recover after a flood, they also define flood resistant structures as those that dry proof, while resilient structures use wet proofing (p. 63). Furthermore, the authors recognize that neither flood resistant nor resilient buildings are some magic panacea – one solution solves all flooding problems (p. 63). This almost validates Liao’s (2012) position that flood resistant structures, in fact, reduce community flood resiliency as the population will be less adaptable when the flood structures fail (pp. 53, 55). Lamond and Proverbs identify barriers to implementation, strategies for trumping barriers, and transferring lessons learned. The authors acknowledge that citizens who have experienced flooding events are more likely to be aware of the dangers and less likely to downplay the risks (p. 68). This article assists in understanding why some people would participate in enhancing resiliency of the built world and others would not.

Finally, Alexander (2011) provides practical advice for planners and managers for enhancing earthquake resilience. The author’s list of ten suggestions provides a concise starting point (pp. 112-114). The conclusion that a reduction of casualties and socio-economic impact is achievable even if damage cannot be abated (p. 114) is a good dialogue starting point. However, proximity to the epicentre of an earthquake, duration of the quake, soil type, and construction type will all play into structural survival, it is too soon to concede that all damage cannot be prevented. 

Critical Analysis 

The articles discovered in this search of the literature provide a satisfactory overview of what is known about structural disaster resiliency against the quadruple threats. Despite the quadruple threats being well known, there seems to be inadequate motivation to pursue adopting or implementing hardening techniques (Lamond & Proverbs, 2009, p. 63). Furthermore, research with a focus on multiple disaster threats seems lacking. While English et al. (2017) researched a combination of flooding with wind events, and Boughton et al. (2017) looked at severe wind events and associated challenges of wind driven water inundation; there are few other examples that became known during this search of the literature. This lack of finds could have as much to do with search algorithms and the preferred search criteria, than lack of literature. The most promising solutions originate with precast concrete buildings (PCI Foundation, 2017); however, these solutions need to be verified by an impartial third party.

Many of the articles directly or indirectly implicate the interconnectedness of solutions, which sounds a lot like systems theory; and the need for collaboration and cooperation between all stakeholders – governments, researchers, professionals, non-governmental organizations, community groups, and individuals (Bosher et al., 2009; Joyner & Sasani, 2020; Lamond & Proverbs, 2009; Morrison et al., 2018; & Smith et al., 2016). Interestingly, a promising article from Saatcioglu et al. (2009) explores the structural disaster resiliency of reinforced-concrete buildings designed for earthquake resistance to blast events and found favourable results. Which may be an early indicator that designing the built world to thrive against the quadruple threats, may lead to universal characteristics that enhance structural disaster resiliency to more threats. Through this review a dichotomy appears to exist between researchers who see solutions as either resistant or resilient, while others want to use a blended or systems approach.

The research gap is a lack of empirical studies or papers that focus on the quadruple threats which impact structural disaster resiliency. Therefore, pursuing the opportunity to initiate an investigation into this area will advance solutions for the emergency management community. 


The search and review of the literature was conducted to learn what is the current status regarding research focused on structural disaster resiliency to the quadruple disaster threats. The search isolated 72 abstracts of interest, which was reduced to 20 articles for deeper review. From these, the best examples of articles to meet the selection criteria were from the wildfire category, while the flood category presented a literature review focused on FRM. The flood category offered an innovative solution to retrofit existing structures with buoyant foundations to rise with the flood waters. Many of the reviewed articles confirmed, directly or indirectly, that systems theory and working together was the path to success. The one area of contention was the differing positions on resistant versus resilient solutions, with many authors proposing some sort of hybrid combination of both resistance and resilience forming a best practice solution. Apart from the professional journal from PCI Foundation (2017) and chapter by Boughton et al. (2017), the remaining sources were all peer-reviewed journals. All sources provided credible solutions or added credible information necessary for creating future solutions. There is a need and opportunity for further research to discover disaster resilient structures to the quadruple threats – wildfire, flood, earthquake, and wind events. 


Alexander, D. (2011). Resilience against earthquakes: Some practical suggestions for planners and managers. Journal of Seismology & Earthquake Engineering, 13(2), 109-115. http://www.jsee.ir/article_240619.html

Bosher, L., Dainty, A., Carrilo, P., Glass, J., & Price, A. (2009). Attaining improved resilience to floods: A proactive multi-stakeholder approach. Disaster Prevention and Management, 18(1), 9-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/09653560910938501

Boughton, G.N., Falck, D.J., & Henderson, D.J. (2017). Tool to evaluate the resilience of buildings to severe wind events. In H. Hao & C. Zhang (Eds.), Mechanics of structures and materials: Advancements and challenges (pp. 1887-1892). Taylor & Francis Group.

English, E.C., Chen, M., Zarins, R., Patange, P., & Wiser, J.C. (2021). Building resilience through flood risk reduction: The benefits of amphibious foundation retrofits to heritage structures. International Journal Architectural Heritage, 15:7, 976-984. https://doi.org/10.1080/15583058.2019.1695154

English, E.C., Friedland, C.J., & Orooji, F. (2017). Combined flood and wind mitigation for hurricane damage prevention: The case for amphibious construction. Journal of Structural Engineering, 143(6). https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)ST.1943-S41X.0001750

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2018). A proposed research agenda for the emergency management higher education community. https://training.fema.gov/hiedu/docs/latest/2018_fema_research_agenda_final-508%20(march%202018).pdf

Joyner, M.D., & Sasani, M. (2020). Building performance for earthquake resilience. Engineering Structures, 210, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.engstruct.2020.110371

Lamond, J.E., & Proverbs, D.G. (2009). Resilience to flooding: Lessons from international comparison. Urban Design and Planning, 162:DP2, 63-70. https://doi.org/10.1680/udap.2009.162.2.63

Liao, K.H. (2012). A theory on urban resilience to floods - A basis for alternative planning practices. Ecology and Society, 17(4):48. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-05231-170448

Morrison, A., Westbrook, C.J., & Noble, B.F. (2018). A review of the flood risk management governance and resilience literature. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 11, 291-304. DOI: 10.1111/jfr3.12315

PCI Foundation. (2017). Ascent designing with precast - Resilient design: Earth. Wind. Fire. Ascent, 27(3). 1-83. https://www.pci.org/PCI_Docs/Publications/Ascent%20Magazine/2017/Ascent_Summer_2017.pdf

Petersen, M.D., Moschetti, M.P., Powers, P.M., Mueller, C.S., Haller, K.M., Frankel, A.D., Zeng, Y., Rezaeian, S., Harmsen, S.C., Boyd, O.S., Field, N., Chen, R., Rukstales, K.S., Luco, N., Wheeler, R.L., Williams, R.A., & Olsen, A.H. (2014). Documentation for the 2014 update of the United States national seismic hazard maps. United States Geological Survey. https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2014/1091/pdf/ofr2014-1091.pdf

Quarles, S.L., Valachovic, Y., Nakamura, G.M, Nader, G.A., & De LaSaux, M.J. (2010). Home survival in wildfire-prone areas: Building materials and design considerations. Agriculture and Natural Resources, Publication 8393. https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8393.pdf

Saatcioglu, M., Ozbakkaloglu, T., Naumoski, N., & Lloyd, A. (2009). Response of earthquake-resistant reinforced-concrete buildings to blast loading. Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, 36, 1378-1390. DOI: 10-1139/L09-089

Sheng, Y.P., Paramygin, V.A., Riveria-Nieves, A.A., Zou, R., Fernald, S., Hall, T., & Jacob, K. (2022). Coastal marshes provide valuable protection for coastal communities from storm-induced wave, flood, and structural loss in a changing climate. Scientific Reports, 12:3051, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-06850-z

Smith, A.M.S., Kolden, C.A, Paveglio, T.B., Cochrane, M.A., Bowman, D.M.J.S., Moritz, M.A., Kliskey, A.D., Alessa, L., Hudak, A.T., Hoffman, C.M., Lutz, J.A., Queen, L.P., Goetz, S.J., Higuera, P.E., Boschetti, L., Flannigan, M., Yedinak, K.M., Watts, A.C., Strand, E.K., ... Abatzoglou, J.T. (2016). The science of Firescapes: Achieving fire-resilient communities, BioScience 66(2), 130-146. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biv182

Stevenson, S.A., Kopp, G.A., & El Ansary, A. (2020). Prescriptive design standards for resilience of Canadian housing in high winds. Frontiers in Built Environment. 6:99. 1-22. DOI: 10.3389/fbuil.2020.00099

Syphard, A.D., Brennan, T.J., & Keeley, J.E. (2017). The importance of building construction materials relative to other factors affecting structure survival during wildfire. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 21(2017), 140-147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.11.011

There we have it. Another school project posted to the blogosphere. 

If you missed the previous postings, here are the links:



I will post more old school projects in the not too distant future. 

Until next time...Get a Haircut, and Real Job!!




29 August 2023

Beyond Three Little Pigs: Creating A Disaster Resilient Community (A Literature Review from 2019)


Maycroft Hills (photo by V.A. McMillan)

Beyond Three Little Pigs: Creating A Disaster Resilient Community

V. Andrew McMillan

Justice Institute of British Columbia

RESM-2100 Research Methods

Dr. Valerie Sheppard

Due Date: 15 October 2019

Word Count: 3314


In acknowledgement of the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risk Report finding that 800 million people face the risk of endangered living space in more than 570 coastal cities around the world; the need for disaster resilient communities is self-evident. How to create disaster resilient buildings and communities is explored through a review of the available literature. The literature did reveal that resilient and community have many meanings and that a disaster resilient community would have a complex web of interconnected links – psychological, social, structural, economic and urban planning. However, a review of the literature failed to discover any examples of buildings designs or communities’ layouts that were successful at surviving wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Further research is required to determine how the provincial government will enable or facilitate a disaster resilient community that can survive wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes when built on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Keywords:  Disaster Resilient Community, Disaster Resilient Building, Resilient, Community, Urbanscape, Wildfire, Flood, Cyclone, Earthquake

Beyond Three Little Pigs: Creating A Disaster Resilient Community

The Global Risk Report 2019 (p. 55), “Already an estimated 800 million people in more than 570 coastal cities are vulnerable to a sea-level rise of 0.5 metres by 2050.” And that is just one of many fire, water, wind or earth-based threats set against residents of this planet. For those wanting to live on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia; they will face all four threats – wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes. This paper will explore the following questions:

Ø  What is a disaster resilient community?

Ø  How is resilient defined in the literature?

Ø  How is community defined in the literature?

Ø  How are structures designed to survive wildfires, floods, cyclones & earthquakes?

Ø  How does the layout of a township or city impact the survival of wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes?

Ø  How would the provincial government enable or facilitate a disaster resilient community that could survive wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes that would be located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia?

With so many natural disasters occurring more often and impacting more people around the globe; it is time to discover how to survive in an ever-increasing hostile environment. The creation of disaster resilient buildings to be the basic building block for a disaster resilient community could be the answer for millions of people around the world who will need a solution in the next two decades.

The creation of a disaster resilient community on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia; a region that is expected to face all four threats – wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes; will become a living example of an effective solution to living with and through the natural disasters that are occurring in rising frequency and growing magnitude. This solution can be replicated around the globe and improve the quality-of-life for millions of people and hundreds of communities.

How would the provincial government enable or facilitate a disaster resilient community that could survive wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes that would be located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia?

The answer to this question will lead to a blueprint for creating urbanscapes that will improve the quality-of-life for not just people living on the West Coast of Vancouver Island; but around the world.

This paper will begin by reviewing the literature to define resilient and community; followed by theories & concepts and notable researchers working on disaster resilience, city resilience and/or urban resilience. Then, this paper will state the method and scope before illuminating organization & movements that are concerned about urban resilience; then rules & codes that are being developed to promote resiliency; followed by examples of failure and success. This paper will close with discussions and conclusions.


When change is the only constant; then, the ability to adapt becomes a great strength. Carrying this idea over to disaster preparedness; this is the ability to weather natural disasters and return to the normative state as rapidly as possible incurring minimal harm. So, what is a disaster resilient community?

Before this question may be answered, the literature needs reviewing to establish the definitions of resilient and community.

Define Resilience

Resilience is not an easy word to define according to the literature. Thankfully, Fran Norris (2008) has tackled this challenge in explicit detail, shown below is her Table 1 (p.129):

Table 1  Resiliency/Resilient Definitions (Norris et al 2008)

As can be seen, as of 2008; there were not less than twenty-one definitions for resilience. Boon et al (2012) commented that the literature at their time, recorded not less than twenty-eight definitions of resilience (p.384); including, the reference to the above twenty-one from Norris et al (2008). Further, the research of Wang et al (2018) explores the use of Cite Space software to analyse journals to generate clusters to understand who, where and what is being researched on resiliency. In contrast, Liao in his Theory to Urban Resilience to Floods (2012) sees resilience as the process where structures and people are conditioned to climatic changes and the use of manufactured barriers to control natural events robs the community of its resilience and opportunity to learn from natural events. Further, when these barriers fail; the community is not able to effectively adapt to the sudden change, causing greater harm. For clarity, this paper will identify with this definition from Boon et al (2012, p.382):

Emergency Management considers resilience essential for safeguarding communities or building safer communities. Disaster resilience is seen as a quality, characteristic or result that is developed by processes that foster or promote it. The ability of an individual, group, community or nation to deal with unique destabilising situations…

Next, we need to define community.

Define Community

Community has similar diverse definitions as resiliency; depending on the point-of-view of the researcher or the field of study. The main challenge occurs when defining a community; is not simply, as a group of people associated to a geographic location or as a group of people connect for social reasons; but as, a complex interconnected web that includes geographical, sociological, ideological, and economic connections (Geis 2000; Twigg 2007; Norris et al 2008; Longstaff et al 2010; Boon et al 2012; Doyle 2016 & Romero-Lankao et al 2016). For clarity, this paper will adopt the definition from Longstaff et al (2010, p. 4):

Communities are unique and have their own local needs, experiences, resources, and ideas about prevention of, protection against, response to, and recovery from different types of disasters. Each community has access to resources and the ability to manipulate and make decisions that single individuals do not.

Theories & Concepts

While reviewing the literature several identified concepts and theories became known. Here is a quick review, in alphabetical order:

Ø  AHP – Analytic Hierarchy Process. Used by Orencio & Fujii (2013) to aid decision-makers in vulnerable coastal communities in the Philippines.

Ø  Bronfenbrenner Model – Boon et al (2012) explore the connections between Bronfenbrenner Theory of Bioecology and apply the framework to disaster resiliency in human communities.

Ø  CART – Community Advancing Resilience Toolkit. An assessment tool to help planner and researcher evaluate community strengths and vulnerabilities to natural disasters. Used by Pfefferbaum et al (2013) & Pfefferbaum et al (2016).

Ø  COPEWELL – Composite of Post-Event Well-being Model. A self-assessment tool to predict post-incident community operating level and resiliency. Used by Schoch-Spana et al (2019).

Ø  CRI – City Resilience Index. A self-assessment tool employed by the Rockefeller Foundation to measure and evaluate the member cities of the 100 Resilient Cities project. (100 RC, 2019).

Ø  DRC – Disaster Resistant Community. A model proposed by Geis (2000) that incorporate structural codes and integrates social structures to create a community that can resist disasters and hazard resilient. A concept endorsed by Twigg (2007).

Ø  DROP – Disaster Resilience of Place. Boon et al (2012) explains that there have been attempts to measure resilience like Cutter et al (2008) use of DROP.

Ø  DRR – Disaster Risk Reduction. Mentioned by Twigg (2007) & Orencio & Fujii (2013). Endorsed by the UN International Strategy of Disaster Reduction (UN ISDR) and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

Notable Researchers

Community resiliency or urban resiliency or city resiliency when meshed with disaster resiliency generate a sizeable pool of researchers, from most continents and more than half a dozen fields of study; each with a different focus. Figure 1 Researcher Node Diagram (below) from Meerow et al (2016); captured who was most prolific in the field of study of Urban Resilience. Many of these researchers were encountered in the research for this paper including: Godschalk, Campanella, Pfefferbaum & Pfefferbaum, Norris, Journeay, Meerow, Twigg, Longstaff, Geis, Orencio, Fujii & Liao. 

Figure 1 Researcher Node Diagram (Meerow et al 2016)

The passing of David R. Godschalk on the 27th of January 2018 at the age of 86 has left a noticeable void in this field of study. He worked with many over the years including Campanella, Brody, Burby, Deyle and Olshansky. Godschalk instructed at the University of North Carolina and authored many articles and books over the last four decades.

With terms defined, concepts identified, and researchers recognized we are getting closer to being able to answer – What is a disaster resilient community?

Contemporary patterns of natural disasters around the world are increasing both in frequency and intensity; combined with aging buildings and infrastructure in poorly designed urbanscapes; and you get a distressed world (WEF, 2019). Yet, from these challenges arise opportunities to create solutions. 

Organizations & Movements

The exploration of the literature has exposed unexpected paths to reveal that urban resiliency is being taken seriously by the Rockefeller Foundation and their 100 Resilient Cities project (100RC, 2019). This project has engaged in a cooperative initiative to ensure 100 cities around the globe will be increasing their resilience to natural disasters and remain vibrant, safe places for people to live, work and play. Further, the quasi-public organization, the United Nations (UN), has also engaged to foster community resiliency in UN vulnerable communities with the aid of UN ISDR and researchers like Twigg (2007). Further, UN initiatives have created movements of international social leaders and researchers to effect change with Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030, designed to combat human impact on the global environment (Simon et al, 2018).  

Rules & Codes

The literature also led to the discovery of resiliency focused building literature to ensure structures are constructed to a high tolerance to climatic conditions and sited at locations aware of potential environmental hazards thus avoid being built in the wrong place to start with. ISO 31000 from the International Standards Organization was created to establish risk management guidelines to ensure architecture is designed and sited with a full understanding of the hazards and risks. With this awareness, future risks will be mitigated, creating safer and more livable communities (IRM, 2018). Additionally, in Canada, the Canadian Geological Society has published guides that help Canadians understand the risks in Canada and how to design resiliency into future projects (Struik et al, 2015; Journeay et al, 2015). Finally, Ventura & Bebamzadeh (2016) produced a seismic vulnerability report for the City of Victoria, BC; which finds that an earthquake greater than magnitude 7 will have devastating impact on a significant portion of the city built before 1990, with the buildings constructed prior to 1972 suffering the greatest damage.

Godschalk & Campanella (2012) in the Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning; identify in addition to the physical urban layout; that planning requires development processes, awareness of natural hazards and natural resources; siting infrastructure, economic areas, employment areas, social areas, institutional zones, and governance. In contrast, Liao (2012), suggestion for increasing flood resiliency is to condition the occupants of the urbanscape to the wet season; ensure structures and citizens can work in harmony with the cycles of river system. Further, Liao suggests that by constructing levies or other devices to control the river; you in fact reduce the resiliency of the residents by removing the opportunity to learn how to live with the water, and when the levies break the citizens will be overwhelmed by water and emotion.


 The review of the literature has illuminated natural disasters that devastated communities; exploiting vulnerabilities in design layout and construction techniques. Whether by fire, water, wind or shaking the very ground one stands on; Mother Nature can humble the achievements of man. Geis (2000) touches on damages caused by the 1985 Mexico City earthquake and Hurricane Andrew in 1992, as well as, a cluster of world-wide devastation in 1999-2000 where in four months earthquakes shook and rumbled through Turkey, Mexico and Taiwan; Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd slammed the Eastern Seaboard of the USA; while cyclones smashed India and China; flooding swamped North Carolina, Mexico, Venezuela and Vietnam. Then, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast and submerged New Orleans.

Meanwhile, Dionisio & Pawson (2016) expound on the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Orencio & Fujii (2013) express that in the past three decades the Philippines’ have suffered over one hundred thousand deaths due to drought, floods and tropical storms. Astill et al (2019) shares incidents of extreme bushfires and flash-flooding experienced in Tasmania; while Sithole et al (2019) conveys similar issues impacting Northern Australia and the Aboriginal communities being scorched by bushfires or tormented by cyclones. Closer to home this writer recalls the 2011 Slave Lake Fire, the Southern Alberta Floods of 2013 which engulfed High River and washed through Calgary; and the 2016 Fort McMurray Fire. Confirming these events can happen anywhere, at any time.


Not all ends in death and destruction; ingenuity, innovation and human creativity have been the catalyst for conquering fire, water, wind and quaking earth. Humans have learned that stone and cement do not burn under normal conditions; water can be proofed or floated-on; and when reinforced and battened; the hatches do not fly-away in the wind. Finally, the shaking of the earth is less severe on hard ground than on soft. These are amongst the lessons learned the hard way and reside in the collective human memory.

Rutte (2016) opened the 17th IPHS Conference in July 2016 with the history of, Delft; a small Dutch farming village and its rise to power. Around 1050 AD, Delft, according to Rutte, constructed a series of irrigation and drained ditches effectively controlling water in the low laying ground; transforming it into productive farmland. These canal projects continued and by 1400 AD, Delft was a fortified community surrounded with a moat and became the most powerful town in the region. This is both a tale of success from an economic standpoint but also from a disaster resiliency point-of-view. By controlling the flooding on the coastal plain, productive agriculture enriched the community and this aided the growth and when linked with the transportation network the community’s success multiplied.

Mazzei (2018) shares the surprise victory of the Sand Palace of Mexico Beach, Florida when walloped by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. This beachfront home built on 40’ piles buried deep while raising the living area one story above the sand was designed to withstand 250 mile per hour winds; was the only intact home left standing in the immediate area. Tough enough to weather the thrashing winds and high enough to escape the storm surge; this purpose built home survived where hundreds did not.


A search of the literature was conducted utilizing a combination of the JIBC Library online search engine, Google Scholar and Google search engines. Initial searches used searched terms:

Ø  Building + Community + “Disaster Resilience”

Ø  “Disaster Resilience” + Architectural Design

Ø  “Disaster Resilience”

Ø  “Disaster Resilience” + Emergency Preparedness or Emergency Planning

Ø  Designing Disaster Resilient Communities

Ø  “Development of Metrics” Community Resilience

Ø  Analytical Quantification Disaster Resilience

Ø  Community Disaster Resilience “Assessment Models”

Ø  Designing Disaster Resilient Communities Theory

Ø  “Disaster Resiliency of Place”

Ø  Designing Disaster + Resilient + Communities

Ø  “Resilience Alliance”

Ø  Disaster Resilient Communities

Ø  Godschalk

From these searches eventually a database of one PowerPoint and twenty-eight PDF files were compiled; the PowerPoint (PPT) was not used. The remaining twenty-eight PDF files consisted of seventeen journal articles; four guides (industry/trade/field); three reports; two book chapters; one scholar convention program and one newspaper article. An Excel spreadsheet was utilized to organize the database for this paper. The sources include five from 2019, four from 2018, seven from 2016, two from 2015, two from 2013, three from 2012, and one each from 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006 & 2000. Further, a research journal was maintained recording progress and acting as a redundant backup copy.

Research bias – this researcher is a solutionist; most concerned with discovering answers than being distracted about committing academic faux pas or suffering intellectual narrow focus. As a result, this researcher does not automatically exclude source information purely based on its peer reviewed status; this researcher will not prejudice information if it proves to be valuable to finding the answers. Peer reviewed equivalent status was extended to some sources at the researcher’s discretion.


This literature review was limited by very tight operational time limits. A minimum of ten peer-reviewed journal articles and a maximum of two non-peer reviewed sources were allowed for this paper. Thus, an in-depth exploration of the literature was not possible; however, the samples collected are representative of the available literature, with representation from Canada, United States of America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

Further, working inside the previous explained constraints the scope of this literature review has been limited to seeking disaster or resiliency events that pertain to wildfires, floods, cyclones and/or earthquakes. Types of resiliency outside of this scope could not be explored at this time.

Conclusions – Closer to Finding the Answers

These last sections will explore in finer detail the results of the literature that was reviewed.


The literature has revealed previous research into the definitions of resilient and community; as well as, explorations of disaster events that include wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Further, resiliency has been described from structural, social, psychological, economic and urban planning perspective. Although, economic was not the focus of this review; this perspective was frequently encountered, not in isolation but intermingled with the others. 

Figure 2 Mind Map - Disaster Resilient Community by McMillan (2019)

Promoting that resiliency is a complex, interconnected process that exceeds simplistic solution sets; there is no panacea for disaster resilient communities. To help visualize the complex nature of disaster resiliency for communities this researcher created this mind map (See Figure 2).

Beyond the scope of this literature review, economic resiliency was a re-occurring theme that was encountered and could not be totally overlooked (Doyle, 2016). A community needs a vibrant economy to stay healthy and by extension resilient. Thus, economic resiliency has been included on this mind map and warrants further research.

The remaining four areas contribute to a healthy and resilient community; the inference that possessing more of these components would ensure a higher level of resiliency, would only be accurate if the citizens of the community were bonded to the community and each other. Pfefferbaum (2013) puts this succinctly (p.251):

Community resilience is not simply a collection of personally resilient community members who respond individually to adverse events. Community resilience entails the ability of community members to take deliberate, purposeful, and collective action to alleviate the detrimental effects of adverse events.

Final Words

In this paper, the definitions of resilient and community were explored in the literature; as well as, the concepts & theories and prominent researchers; before organizations & movements; rules & codes and samples of failures & success were investigated. Then, the disaster resilient community was discussed and found to be a complex, interconnected network of social, community, psychological, structural and urban planning connections.

This review of the literature did not discover any examples of physical structures that were specifically designed to survive all four events – wildfire, flood, cyclone and earthquake. Thus, further research is required to design a structure that can survive these events and become the basic building block for the structural component of a disaster resilient community.

Next, this review of the literature did not discover any codified urbanscapes specifically designed to layout a township or city to survive all four events – wildfire, flood, cyclone and earthquake. Leading to a need for further research to design a layout that has the maximum resilience to disasters.

Further, during this literature review it was discovered that community education in disaster preparedness is beneficial to improving the disaster resiliency of the community. However, these education programs are most effective in communities that have or can develop tighter bonds to both the community as a location and fellow citizens.

Finally, more research is required to determine how the provincial government would enable or facilitate a disaster resilient community that can survive wildfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes that would be located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


100 Resilient Cities (100RC), (2019). Resilient Cities, Resilient Lives - Learning from the 100RC Network. Retrieved from http://100resilientcities.org/capstone-report/

Astill, S., Corney, S., Carey, R., Auckland, S., & Cross, M. (2019). Reconceptualising 'community' to identify place-based disaster management needs in Tasmania. Australian Journal of Emergency Management. 34(1), 48-51. Retrieved from https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/ajem-jan-2019-reconceptualising-community-to-identify-place-based-disaster-management-needs-in-tasmania/

Boon, H.J., Cottrell, A., King, D., Stevenson, R.B., & Millar, J. (2012). Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theory for modelling community resilience to natural disasters. Natural Hazards. 60(2). 381-408. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11069-011-0021-4

Campanella, T.J. (2006). Urban Resilience and the Recovery of New Orleans. Journal of the American Planning Association. 72(2). 141-146. Retrieved from http://research-legacy.arch.tamu.edu/epsru/Course_Readings/Ldev671MARS689/LDEV671_Readings/Campanella_urbanresilience_japa.pdf

Campanella, T.J., & Godschalk, D.R. (2012). Chapter 12: Why Plan? Institutions and Values – Resilience. In Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning (pp. 218-236). Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/~tomcamp/Public/articles/CAMPANELLA_Resilience.pdf

Dionisio, M.R., & Pawson, E. (2016). Building Resilience Through Post-Disaster Community Projects: Responses to the 2010 and 2011Christchurch Earthquakes and 2011 Tohoku Tsunami. Australasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies. 20 (People in Disasters Special Edition). 107-116. Retrieved from https://www.massey.ac.nz/~trauma/issues/2016-2/AJDTS_20-2_Dionisio.pdf

Doyle, A., (2016). Operationalising Resilience within Urban Planning - Bridging Theory and Practice. plaNext Next Generation Planning. 3:23. 101-113. Retrieved from http://journals.aesop-planning.eu/volume-3/article-23/

Geis, D.E., (2000). By Design: The disaster resistant and quality-of-life community. Natural Hazards Review. 1(3). 151-160. https://ascelibrary.org/doi/pdf/10.1061/%28ASCE%291527-6988%282000%291%3A3%28151%29

Institute of Risk Management (IRM). (2018). A Risk Practitioner’s Guide to ISO 31000:2018. Retrieved from https://www.theirm.org/media/3513119/IRM-Report-ISO-31000-2018-v3.pdf

Journeay, J.M., Talwar, S., Brodaric, B., & Hastings, N.L. (2015). Disaster Resilience by Design: A Framework for Integrated Assessment and Risk-Based Planning in Canada (Open File 7551). Retrieved from https://geoscan.nrcan.gc.ca/starweb/geoscan/servlet.starweb?path=geoscan/fulle.web&search1=R=296800

Liao, K.H. (2012). A Theory on Urban Resilience to Floods - A Basis for Alternative Planning Practices. Ecology and Society. 17(4):48. n.p. Retrieved from https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol17/iss4/art48/

Longstaff, P.H., Armstrong, N.J., Perrin, K., Parker, W.M., & Hidek, M.A. (2010). Building Resilient Communities: A Preliminary Framework for Assessment. Homeland Security Affairs Journal. VI(3). 1-23. Retrieved from http://insct.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Building-Resilient-Communities.pdf

Mazzei, P. (2018). Among the Ruins of Mexico Beach Stands One House, Built 'for the Big One'. New York Times. 14 Oct 2018, Section A, Page 1. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/14/us/hurricane-michael-florida-mexico-beach-house.html

Meerow, S., Newell, J.P., & Stults, M. (2016). Defining urban resilience: A review. Landscape and Urban Planning. 147(2016). 38-49. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204615002418

Norris, F.H., Stevens, S.P., Pfefferbaum, B., Wyche, K.F., & Pfefferbaum, R.L. (2008). Community Resilience as a Metaphor, Theory, Set of Capacities, and Strategy for Disaster Readiness. American Journal of Community Psychology. 41(1-2). 127-150. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18157631

Orencio, P.M., & Fujii, M. (2013). A Localized Disaster-Resilience Index to Assess Coastal Communities Based on an Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP). International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 3. 63-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2012.11.006

Pfefferbaum, R.L., Pfefferbaum, B., Van Horn, R.L., Klomp, R.W., Norris, F.H., & Reissman, D.B. (2013). The Communities Advancing Resilience Toolkit (CART): An Intervention to Build Community Resilience to Disasters. Journal of Public Health Management Practice. 19(3). 250-258. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23524306

Pfefferbaum, R.L., Pfefferbaul, B., Zhao, Y.D., Van Horn, R.L, McCarter, G.S., & Leonard, M.B. (2016). Assessing community resilience: A CART survey application in an impoverished urban community. Disaster Health. 3(2). 45-56. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21665044.2016.1189068

Romero-Lankao, P., Gnatz, D.M., Wilhelmi, O., & Hayden, M. (2016). Urban Sustainability and Resilience: From Theory to Practice. Sustainability. 8(12):1224. 1-19. doi:10.3390/su8121224

Rutte, R. (2016). History of Delft. In 17th IPHS Conference, Delft, 2016 | History - Urbanism - Resilience |. Retrieved from http://iphs2016.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/finalfinal_IPHS_2016-Program_and_Info-WEB.pdf

Schoch-Spana, M., Gill, K., Hosangadi, D., Slemp, C., Burhans, R., Zeis, J., Carbone, E.C., & Links, J. (2019). The COPEWELL Rubric: A Self-Assessment Toolkit to Strengthen Community Resilience to Disasters. Disasters International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 16(13):2372. 1-17. doi:10.3390/ijerph16132372

Simon, D., Griffith, C., & Nagendra, H. (2018). Chapter 7: Rethinking Urban Sustainability and Resilience. Part II: Global Urban Sustainable Development. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/urban-planet/rethinking-urban-sustainability-and-resilience/16025A55A76873AFF076247690199B30

Sithole, B, Campion, O.B., & Hunter-Xenie, H. (2019). Hazard-smart remote communities in northern Australia: Community-led preparedness. Australian Journal of Emergency Management. 34(1). 28-34. Retrieved from https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/ajem-jan-2019-hazard-smart-remote-communities-in-northern-australia-community-led-preparedness/

Struik, L.C., Pearce, L.D., Dercole, F., Shoubridge, J., van Zijll de Jong, S., Allan, J.D., Hastings, N.L., & Clague, J.J. (2015). Risk-based Land-use Guide: Safe use of land based on hazard risk assessment (Open File 7772). Retrieved from http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2017/rncan-nrcan/M183-2/M183-2-7772-1-eng.pdf

Twigg, J. (2007). Characteristics of a Disaster-resilient Community - A Guidance Note. Retrieved from http://lib.riskreductionafrica.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/623/characteristics%20of%20a.pdf?sequence=1

Ventura, C.E., & Bebamzadeh, A. (2016). Executive Summary - Citywide Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of The City of Victoria. Retrieved from https://www.victoria.ca/assets/Departments/Emergency~Preparedness/Documents/Citywide-Seismic-Vulnerabilities-Assessment.pdf

Wang, L., Xue, X, Zhang, Y., & Luo, X. (2018). Exploring the Emerging Evolution Trends of Urban Resilience Research by Scientometric Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 15(10):2181. 1-29. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102181

World Economic Forum (WEF). (2019). The Global Risk Report 2019 - 14th Edition. Retrieved from http://wef.ch/risks2019


Table 1

Resiliency/Resilient Definitions (Norris et al 2008)

Figure 1 & Figure 2

Figure 1. Researcher Node Diagram (Meerow et al 2016)

Figure 2: Mind Map - Disaster Resilient Community by McMillan (2019)

I have learned a lot since this first introduction to the Literature Review in 2019. The first big ahh moment was the discovery that the only way to understand what a literature review was, was to actually do one. Then, it all made sense.

In the near future more school projects will find their way onto my blog(s).

Here is the link to my Research Poster on The GOOD Plan Blog:


As you can see, this first literature review did have an impact on future research.

Until next time...learn something new!!


Next Literature Review, from 2022: