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Critical Path Method Assessment of Community Recovery



Francis M. Lavelle, Charles Goodhue, Douglas Lyons


The critical path method (CPM) is investigated as a tool for identifying recovery activities that control the timeline for restoration of key community functions in the wake of a major disruptive event, such as a hurricane or tornado. Three recovery endpoints are studied: (1) restoring drinking water systems to normal operations, (2) returning children to school, and (3) returning businesses to normal operations. Interviews were conducted with individuals in seven communities who led recovery efforts between 2011 and 2019. The primary goal was to identify and document the sequence and duration of activities that would have delayed key recovery milestones if they had started later or taken longer to complete. Within each function, intermediate milestones are also identified, for example, students returning to school in temporary modules or the partial reopening of a business. Master tables for water, schools, and business are developed that summarize the activities on the critical paths identified in each community. Several opportunities to speed up the recovery process are identified, and issues relevant to the modeling of community recovery are discussed.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) - 20-023
Report Number


Business, Community Resilience, Critical Path, Flood, Hurricane, Recovery, School, Storm Surge, Tornado, Water


Lavelle, F. , Goodhue, C. and Lyons, D. (2020), Critical Path Method Assessment of Community Recovery, Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created January 14, 2020, Updated January 25, 2020