© Laurie Johnson Consulting | Research 2019

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.

Resilient Coastal City Regions: Planning for Climate Change in the United States and Australia

Edward J. Blakely and Armando Carbonell (Editors)

Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (March 2012)

Laurie Johnson and Laura Tam coauthored the chapter on the San Francisco Bay Area, one of nine coastal cities and metropolitan areas featured in this look at climate-related risk (sea level rise and storm surge, drought and water shortage, floods, wildfires, and heat waves) and the climate change responses underway in the United States and Australia.

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.


Recent Publications


California Earthquake Early Warning System Benefit Study, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, California Seismic Safety Commission and Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, July 29, 2016. Laurie A. Johnson, Sharyl Rabinovici, Grace Kang, and Stephen Mahin.


The Mw 6.0 South Napa Earthquake of August 24, 2014: A Wake-Up Call for Renewed Investment in Seismic Resilience Across California, California Seismic Safety Commission and Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, June 2016. Laurie A. Johnson and Stephen Mahin.


Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), “Stronger Housing, Safer Communities Strategies for Seismic and Flood Risks: A Manual for Local Governments," 2015. Principal consultant and strategy author.

“The Evolution of the Federal Role in Supporting Community Recovery after U.S. Disasters,” Journal of the American Planning Association, Special Issue: Planning for Disaster Recovery, 80:4, p. 293-304, 2014. Robert B. Olshansky and Laurie A. Johnson.


Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery: Next Generation (James Schwab, Editor), Planning Advisory Service Report 576, American Planning Association. 2014. Author of two chapters on  “Planning for Long-term Recovery” and “Implementing the Recovery Plan”.


“Three Years after a Mega-disaster: Recovery Policies, Programs and Implementation after the Great East Japan Earthquake,” Book chapter in Restoration After Tsunami Event (Vicente Santiago-Fandino, Editor), Springer Environmental and Societal Significance Series. 2014. Kanako Iuchi, Laurie A. Johnson, and Elizabeth Maly.


“Developing a Local Recovery Management Framework: Report on the Post-Disaster Strategies and Approaches Taken by Three Local Governments in the U.S. Following Major Disasters,” International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, 32:2, p. 242-274, August 2014. Summary of 2009 dissertation, Kyoto University.


Lifelines Interdependency Study | Report, The Lifelines Council, The City and Council of San Francisco, April 17, 2014. Study director and lead author.

California's Tsunami Risk: A Call for Action, Report of the Ad hoc Tsunami Policy Working Group, California Department of Conservation, Natural Resources Agency. April 2014.


“Transforming Governance: How national policies and organization for managing disaster recovery evolved following the September 4, 2010 and February 22, 2011 Canterbury earthquakes,” Earthquake Spectra. 2010-2011 Canterbury New Zealand Earthquakes Special Issue. February 2014. Oakland, CA: Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. Laurie A. Johnson and Ljubica Mamula-Seadon.


“Securing Tohoku’s Future: Planning for Rebuilding in the First Year Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.” Earthquake Spectra. 2011 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake and Tsunami Special Issue. March 2013. Kanako Iuchi, Laurie A. Johnson, and Robert B. Olshansky.

On Solid Ground: How Good Land Use Planning Can Prepare the Bay Area for a Strong Disaster Recovery,” Policy Paper, Resilient City Initiative, SPUR, February 2013. Chair of the Land Use Planning and Disaster Recovery Task Force and lead author.

​“Synthesis Efforts in Disaster Recovery Research,” from the Proceedings of the PERI Theory of Recovery Workshop, Chapel Hill, NC, November 11 – 13, 2010. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 212–238. August 2012. Laurie A. Johnson and Haruo Hayashi.


Disaster and Recovery: Processes Compressed in Time,” Natural Hazards Review, Volume 13, Number 3, p. 173 - 178. Robert B. Olshansky, Lewis D. Hopkins, and Laurie A. Johnson.

​"Rebuild Fast but Rebuild Better: Chile’s first year of recovery following the 27F earthquake and tsunami,” Earthquake Spectra​. Special Issue on the M8.8 Maule Chile Earthquake of February 27, 2010. Volume 28, No. S1, p. S621 - S641, June 2012. William Siembieda, Laurie A. Johnson and Guillermo Franco.


"Safe Enough to Stay: What will it take for San Franciscans to live safely in their homes after an earthquake?,” Policy Paper, Resilient City Initiative, SPUR, February 2012. Member of the Shelter-in-Place Task Force and contributing author.


Disaster Recovery: Guidance for Donors, National Center for Disaster Preparedness. New York, NY: Columbia University Earth Institute. September 2011. David M. Abramson, Derrin Culp, Laurie Johnson and Lori J. Bertman.

​"Planning for Long-term Recovery Before Disaster Strikes: Case Studies of 4 U.S. Cities," Study Report, New York, NY: National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University EarthInstitute. 2011. ​David Abramson, DerrinCulp, Jonathan Sury, and Laurie Johnson.


National Earthquake Resilience Research, Implementation, and Outreach. Washington D.C.: Committee on National Earthquake Resilience: Research, Implementation, and Outreach, Committee on Seismology and Geodynamics, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies. March 2011. Committee member and contributing author.

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.

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.