Keywords: infrastructure failure, critical infrastructures, disaster recovery, coastal communities, Hurricane Katrina, resilience, hazards research
Understanding critical infrastructure failure: examining the experience of Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina
This article examines disaster recovery and resilience issues following a major hurricane. Two coastal communities were chosen for study following Hurricane Katrina in order to explore the issues in measuring and evaluating recovery and resilience. The communities were Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. A mix of data sources was employed to determine effects on critical infrastructure on a community-wide scale. The data sources included key informant interviews, Geographic Information System (GIS) data and secondary data such as newspaper reports, city financial statements and similar documents. The key findings indicate a methodological problem with the formulation of recovery and resilience curves as discussed in other literature. While information regarding a particular community can be mapped, its characteristics are unique and difficult to generalise to other communities. While this issue is not necessarily new to the area of hazards research, it adds weight to the argument that more should be done to collect postevent data that can be analysed in a cross-comparative way with other communities. Recommendations include the establishment of a 'data archivist' position that would be collocated in an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), and the development of standardised measurement sets that all disaster-affected communities would gather post event. Finally, specific recommendations for further research are offered.