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In the wake of tragedies such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Wilma and Irene, as well as the devastation wrought by the Japanese earthquake and unprecedented levels of wind events across the United States, experts have begun to consider the issues of urban resiliency—specifically concentrating on unique characteristics that either reduce or increase regional exposures and the ability to recover following a major event.

Those communities demonstrating strong social capital, diverse economic bases, low levels of inequality and strong political leadership are most likely to emerge quickly from the effects of a large-scale event. In the case of New Orleans, few resiliency characteristics were evident prior to the disaster. Core industries were in a state of decline; highly concentrated populations of people lived below the poverty line; disparity in such areas as health care, education and home ownership were prevalent; and political vision and leadership proved ineffective.

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