Despite a growing literature on disaster resilience, our understanding of what makes rural areas resilient remains limited. Existing literature mainly focuses on urban areas and characterizes rural areas as more vulnerable than urban areas without recognizing the possibility of rural resilience. Furthermore, there is a lack of robust and consistent indicators focusing both on the vulnerability and resilience of rural areas. This study is advances scientific research on disaster resilience in rural areas. The specific aims are to (1) develop an innovative, multi-faceted, place-based vulnerability and resilience index with an exclusive focus on rural areas (called the Rural Vulnerability and Resilience Index or RVRI in short); (2) identify the consequences of vulnerability and resilience in terms of disaster recovery (in the context of the 1993 Midwest Floods, 1996 Southern Plains Drought, and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina); and (3) develop policy options for rural areas on enhancing disaster resilience. The Resilient Rural America project significantly enhances the abilities of policy makers and practitioners by providing new knowledge of how disaster vulnerability and resilience change over time and across rural areas in the U.S. It will help them tailor policies to reduce the vulnerabilities of each rural area and make more informed funding allocation decisions at the state and federal levels to reduce disparities in preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation capacities.