Contrasting Local Government Responses to a Tornado Disaster in Two Communities

November 1987 (VOL. 5, NO. 3)

Download this article

In the United States, immediate post-impact response activities in natural disasters are normally the responsibility of local government. Federal and state governments provide supplemental assistance, primarily in the form of financial subsidies for long-term recovery. An entirely different pattern of disaster response emerged as two adjacent communities struggled to deal with the effects of the same damaging tornado. In one community the response was directed entirely by the city manager, but in the other emergency activities were personally directed by the state\\'s governor without any pretext of local control. This paper examines the formal structure of the two local governments and their histories of intergovernmental relationships with the state in an effort to account for the unique pattern.