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Laurie Johnson has studied many of the world’s major urban disasters and written extensively about the economics of catastrophes, land use and risk, and disaster recovery and reconstruction.

After Great Disasters: An In-depth Analysis of How Six Countries Managed Community Recovery ​

Laurie A. Johnson and Robert B. Olshansky

Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (June 2017)


This book and its companion Policy Focus Report chronicle the processes and outcomes of community recovery and reconstruction following major disasters in six countries: China, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Japan, and the United States. Post-disaster reconstruction offers opportunities to improve construction, renew infrastructure, create new land use arrangements, reinvent economies, and improve governance. If done well, reconstruction can help break the cycle of disaster-related impacts and losses, and improve the resilience of a city or region.

Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans

​Robert B. Olshansky and Laurie A. Johnson

Chicago, IL: American Planning Association (2010)

Rebuilding New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina has been among the greatest urban challenges of our time. Ms. Johnson and Robert B. Olshansky collaborated to understand the challenges that New Orleans faced and the role of urban planning in the city’s rebirth. They spent years interviewing leaders and citizens and supporting the design and execution of the Unified New Orleans Plan. Their book chronicles the first 22 months after Katrina struck, and their insights aim to help practitioners around the world in rebuilding and recovering after disasters.

Opportunity in Chaos: Rebuilding After the 1994 Northridge and 1995 Kobe Earthquakes

​Robert B. Olshansky, Laurie A. Johnson, and Kenneth C. Topping
with Yoshiteru Murosaki, Kazuyoshi Ohnishi, Hisako Koura, and Ikuo Kobayashi

Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois (2005; web-published: March 2011)


This research study was initially completed in 2005. The pdf version was produced in March 2011. Although our understanding of post-disaster recovery has greatly expanded based on our research of Hurricane Katrina and other subsequent events, the findings from this study focus on what we learned in Kobe, Japan (following the Mw6.9 earthquake of January 17, 1995) and Los Angeles, California (following the M6.7 earthquake of January 17, 1994).  The findings are consistent with our current knowledge and we are glad to be able to make this report more widely available following the March 2011 Japanese tsunami disaster.

Other Recent Publications


"Planning for Disaster-Induced Relocation of Communities," Balakrishnan Balachandran, Robert B. Olshansky, and Laurie A. Johnson, Journal of the American Planning Association, Published online: 24 Nov 2021.

Analysis of Communities at Risk in the HayWired Scenario, Laurie A. Johnson, Jamie L. Jones, Anne M. Wein, and Jeff A. Peters, Chapter U of The HayWired Earthquake Scenario —Societal Consequences, 2021, U.S. Geological Survey Science Investigation Report.

"Financing rapid community reconstruction after catastrophic disaster: lessons from the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China," Natural Hazards, Vol 104, Supplement Issue 1, pages 5 - 30, October 2020. Yu Xiao, Robert Olshansky,Yang Zhang, Laurie A. Johnson and Yan Song.

Recovery Planning with Cities,” Chapter 23 in The Routledge Handbook of Urban Disaster Resilience: Integrating Mitigation, Preparedness, and Recovery Planning (M. Lindell, editor), Routledge Handbooks, 2020, p.378-394.


Post-disaster Building Safety Evaluation Guidance, FEMA P-2055, Report on the Current State of Practice, including Recommendations Related to Structural and Nonstructural Safety and Habitability, Federal Emergency Management Agency, November 2019. FEMA advisor to the project.


“Increasing Community Resilience through Improved Lifeline Infrastructure Performance,” The Bridge, Volume 49, Number 2, pages 34-42, Washington D.C.: National Academy of Engineering, April 2019. C. Rojahn, L. Johnson, T. D. O’Rourke, V. Cedillos, T. P. McAllister, and S. L. McCabe.

© Laurie Johnson Consulting | Research 2024

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