After the Storm Has Passed

Some Highlights – long post of praise for good work. Since April, Houston government, nonprofit and private sector leaders have been in the interesting posture of preparing for hurricane season, responding to floods and derecho, while anticipating impact of tropical storm Alberto. Mayor Whitmire’s press conference this weekend highlighted new City of Houston rescue and […]

Starting Places

Five years ago, Judge Ed Emmett rang me up as I was juggling two phones trying to get information about which of our centers were flooded and which were dry. As then CEO of BakerRipley I was thinking past the immediate emergency of drastic flooding and stranded people, trying to inventory what assets we had […]


In the aftermath of disaster there are discernible patterns – stages of thought, behavior and emotions. Fifteen years ago I began to map them. To document – from the experiences of people who’d faced the unthinkable – those patterns and stages. You can read some of what I’ve written about them on my website. This […]

Louisiana On My Mind —

I am thinking of some of my most treasured relationships. People in Louisiana. Friends and family. Many Louisiana friends are “storm friends”. We came to know one another in the aftermath of Katrina. We’ve seen horrible stuff. We’ve hugged in a street surrounded by wreckage, when everything was gray dust covered, with the smell of […]

Golden Triangle

I’m a bit heartsick about the Golden Triangle. The folks not over Harvey and struck by Imelda as they try to get their heads above the muck and mud. We fight to be able to rethink before we rebuild, but HOME is so URGENT calling us back. The answers are no longer behind us and we […]

Born For Storms: Nine Lessons on Creating Welcome and the Journey to Recovery

One of the oldest stories in the world is the story of displacement. Upended lives. Mass migrations. Wholesale disruptions of community and belonging. When weather or war make our world uninhabitable, we will move to higher ground. We will seek a new life. I have witnessed this recovery journey as CEO of BakerRipley, the largest […]

Flooded Again

So many of my friends homes are flooded. Again. I feel sick with dread. Weeks of misery. Months of mold. You’d think we would grow some sort of thicker skin (scales) to deal with all of this but we haven’t yet. It’s just so heartbreaking to see people trying to continue a way of life […]

Born for Storms: What Makes Long-Term Disaster Recovery Work? 2008

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” — H.E. Luccock Long-term recovery begins after emergency services are depleted or no longer needed. After newly arrived residents are safe, (temporarily) sheltered, fed, and treated for emergency medical needs, the longer term response must kick in. The social, faith-based, and […]


We are all vulnerable creatures. We live on a tumultuous and volatile planet. War or weather. Upheaval is not rare but normal. It’s the spaces of predictability in between, those we think of and wish were “normal”, that we must treasure. It’s a hard reality that we are always on the brink of something catastrophic. […]

Recovery Mirrors

Many people have lost their memories and their history. Not only in this storm but in other storms and disruptions as well. For some, Harvey is a heartbreaking sequel. They’ve hauled their belongings to the curb before and now they’re doing it again. Piling up their pain. Waiting for deliverance. In some way they’re the lucky ones. […]