Adaptation to climate change in general, and sea level rise in particular, will be a complex process involving difficult decisions for communities. Scores of coastal cities will need to make some adjustments to rising sea level. In most cases, communities will confront disruptive new sea levels through large coastal storms and storm surges rather than as a result of slowly rising waters. Thus, adaptation to sea level rise will occur, to a great extent, through the process of long-term post-disaster recovery following these episodic disasters. If severe coastal storms are the carrier of sea level rise, then post-disaster recovery is the means of adaptation. This paper briefly summarizes what we know about the process of post-disaster recovery, with particular attention to the process of community relocation after disasters. We know that recovery is a fast-paced process with many actors, and that smart recovery requires intention, resources, and organizations designed to operate effectively in post-disaster compressed time environments. Successful recovery requires citizen involvement, and relocation in particular requires citizens to be empowered to be partners in the decisions. Still, relocation is inherently challenging, because it is expensive, residents have strong attachments to place, and relocations often disrupt social and economic networks and impede livelihoods.