Hurricane Andrew Through Women’s Eyes: Issues and Recommendations

March 1996 (VOL. 14, NO. 1)

Download this article

While gender is a central organizing principle in social systems, limited attention has been paid to differences in the disaster-related experiences of women and men. To address some gender-related we conducted a qualitative sociology analysis of women’s experiences in the most heavily impacted areas of Dade County, Florida after Hurricane Andrew. Through interviews, focus groups, surveys, secondary data analysis, and fieldwork we document ways in which the private and public caregiving responsibilities of women expanded, often under very difficult and stressful circumstances. Being particularly interested in the intersection of gender with race/ethnicity and class, much of our work focused on minority groups having particular problems with recovery, including migrant workers, recent immigrants, single mothers, and battered women. The effects of household and community losses tended to be different for women and in many respects more profound. Being female was an important dimension which appeared to increase the negative effects of being a victim and to retard personal and family recovery, especially when compounded with poverty and minority status. Based on issues which emerged from the experiences of women victims and careproviders, we offer a series of recommendations to disaster planners to increase the involvement of women at every level of disaster response.