The National Disaster Recovery Framework


The National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) was released in 2011 and updated in 2016. The current guidance stems from the NDRF 2nd edition. It offers a flexible structure enabling “disaster recovery managers to operate in a unified and collaborative manner.” Not only does it consider disaster prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery, “the NDRF is a scalable, flexible guide that defines:

  • Recovery guiding principles and core capabilities.
  • Roles and responsibilities of recovery coordinators and other stakeholders.
  • The federal support structure.
  • A coordinating structure that facilitates communication and collaboration.
  • Guidance for pre- and post-disaster recovery planning.
  • And the overall process by which communities can capitalize on opportunities to rebuild stronger, smarter and safer.”

The NDRF also created six recovery support functions which are listed below, along with their lead coordinating agency and a link to more information about each function:

  • “Community Planning and Capacity Building (CPCB) Recovery Support Function (PDFSee FEMA’s page for CPCB.
  • Economic Recovery Support Function (PDF)
    U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function (PDF)
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Housing Recovery Support Function (PDF)
    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Infrastructure Systems Recovery Support Function (PDF)
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Natural and Cultural Resources Recovery Support Function (PDF)
    U.S. Department of Interior.”

In essence, the Framework demonstrates that the federal government values what the private sector brings to the table in disaster recovery and encourages its innovation in meeting the needs of affected communities.

Key Facts

  • The NDRF is guided by eight core principles aimed at maximizing the opportunities for success in recovery: Individual and family empowerment, leadership and local primacy, pre-disaster recovery planning, engaged partnerships and inclusiveness, unity of effort, timeliness and flexibility, resilience and sustainability, and psychological and emotional recovery.
  • The NDRF encourages greater partnership with the whole of the community, especially in terms of innovative pre-disaster recovery planning efforts. Collaboration with surrounding governments, foundations, universities, nonprofit organizations and private sector entities is recommended.
  • The NDRF recognizes the importance of public-private partnerships—in addition to broad and diverse funding sources—for successful recovery. Nonprofits help fill gaps that cannot be filled with government authority and resources.
  • Vulnerable populations must be considered and included. The framework aims to build inclusiveness into recovery planning and implementation. Those with disabilities, access/functional needs, limited English proficiency, older adults, members of underserved populations and those who advocate for children must be part of the recovery picture.
  • The private sector plays a great part in establishing post-disaster public confidence. Having a recovery plan in place can greatly help increase optimism that the community will successfully recover from any disaster. In addition, given that much of the country’s critical infrastructure is privately owned and operated, businesses such as power companies and telecommunications systems providers play crucial roles in recovery.

How to Help

The National Disaster Recovery Framework highlights the importance of community involvement in disaster preparedness and long-term recovery. Donors can employ the following strategies to complement existing federal assistance programs.

  • Support training and coordination of leadership from all levels of government and sectors of society, throughout all phases of the recovery process. NDRF strongly recommends the appointment of Local Disaster Recovery Managers in addition to State/Tribal Disaster Recovery Coordinators to be in the forefront of disaster recovery activities. These leaders must be able to speak on behalf of their respective chief executives and serve as the primary contact for the Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator, should an event require federal assistance.
  • Help ensure vulnerable populations are represented. Disaster plans must make certain that services reach those who need them most. For that to happen, accurate metrics and understanding of unique needs must be in place.
  • Fund innovative efforts in pre-disaster planning. This might entail training, establishment of contacts, organizational development, leadership capacity building, evaluation and other factors.
  • Fund community assessments that can highlight unique risk to hazards and strengthen the area’s ability to withstand and recover from future disasters. Such assessments not only identify limitations in recovery capacity, but may also uncover areas of potential financial challenges.
  • Support the widespread dissemination of information and strategy. This includes business and community pre- and post-disaster checklists, as well as public information campaigns for preparedness on an individual level.

NDRF offers much-needed guidance, structure and support for more effective recovery as a nation, however, the framework can only be effective when known, understood and put into use.

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