Article Index

The Organization of Disaster Response Core Concepts and Processes

Authors
Gary A. Kreps
Issue
November 1983
Description
A theory of the structure and process of organization is being developed from archival data which describe the activities of established and emergent groups and organizations following disasters. The theory points to four necessary and sufficient elements of organization--domain, tasks, human and material resources, and activities--while making no assumption about their patterning in time and space. It is argued that 24 logically possible patterns of initiating, maintaining, and suspending organization reflect an underlying continuum of Weberian formal rationality to more elemental forms of collective behavior. Documented patterns for 423 instances of organization from 15 events, the disaster demands to which they were directed, and the focal organizations who performed them are presented. Implications of the evolving theory for disaster research and general sociology are discussed.

The Phases of Disaster as a Relationship Between Structure and Meaning: A Narrative Analysis of the 1947 Texas City Explosion

Authors
Brian K Richardson
Issue
November 2005
Description
Developing disaster phase models has been useful, particularly for understanding response efforts to emergencies and disasters. However, such models are limited in their ability to explain the phases encountered by a social collective, or community, as it progresses through response and recovery efforts. This study examined phases of disaster response and recovery as a sociological problem. A grounded-theory analysis was used to examine 60 personal narratives of the 1947 Texas City explosion, which is an example of a cosmology episode (Weick 1985). Survivors of the explosion provided narrative accounts describing their memories of the incident. Results support the idea that social collectives depend upon a transactional relationship between structure and meaning to make sense of events. The study develops a phase model depicting four phases experienced by the Texas City community prior to, during, and after the disaster. This study reveals contributions gained through analysis of personal narratives to illuminate the relationship between disaster and human activity.

The Piper's Dance: A Paradigm of the Collective Response to Epidemic Disease

Authors
Cornelius G. Hughes
Issue
August 1993
Description
A content analysis of the literature on epidemics, with particular reference to the American experience with AIDS, reveals the natural history of the response of endangered populations to epidemics. The paradigm contains four sequential phases: discernment, in which the threatened society becomes cognizant of the presence of a spreading lethal infection; a collective trauma with symptoms similar to other natural and man-made disasters and attended by denial, epidemic phobia, scapegoating and retribution guilt; avoidance behavior ruled by rational attempts to lessen the risk of contagion; and recovery, in which survivors enabled by biological immunity or medical technology witness the abatement of the epidemic. Though they have distinctive traits, epidemics illustrate the essential dynamics that mark natural and technological disasters.

The Political matrix of Natural Disasters: Africa and Latin America

Authors
Morris Davis, Judith A. Golec, Steven Thomas Seitz
Issue
August 1983
Description
Scarce resources often force governments to make difficult choices in the authoritative allocation of values. Such value decisions are particularly acute in developing counties, where need and demand far exceed government wherewithal. Major structural and political factors, which help explain the response adequacy of developed and developing nations, shed little light on the comparative performance of developing regimes alone. To aid in understanding these latter differences, this article identifies three patterns of authoritative allocation found among the developing countries of Africa and Latin America: ethnic pluralism, corporatism, and egalitarianism. These patterns, in turn, help account for observed variation within developing countries of average number killed, average amount of damage, and average number of victims within the disaster categories of earthquake, flood, epidemic, drought, and storm.

The Political Matrix of Natural Disasters: Africa and Latin America

Authors
Morris Davis, Steven Thomas Seitz
Issue
August 1984
Description
Scarce resources often force governments to make difficult choices in the authoritative allocation of values. Such value decisions are particularly acute in developing countries, where need and demand far exceed government wherewithal. Major structural and political factors, which help explain the response adequacy of developed and developing nations, shed little light on the comparative performance of developing regimes alone. To aid in understanding these latter differences, this article identifies three patterns of authoritative allocation found among the developing countries of Africa and Latin America: ethnic pluralism, corporatism, and egalitarianism. These patterns, in turn, help account for observed variation within developing countries of average number killed, average amount of damage, and average number of victims within the disaster categories of earthquake, flood, epidemic, drought, and storm.

The Potential for Right to Know Legislation in Canada

Authors
John Collins
Issue
August 1992
Description
Increasing public concern about environmental pollution has led to the implementation of a series of laws and public information systems about toxic hazards, know as the Right to Know, in the both United States and the European Community. The theoretical underpinnings of the Right to Know movement are examined, along with the implementation processes undertaken in the USA and Europe. The American model, in particular, is linked to the emergence of environmental public action groups and a corresponding decrease in government regulation. This system is criticized as being overly dependent on litigation as a punitive measure against corporate polluters. On the other hand, the European model fails to directly empower community\\'s with specific information and is weak on implementation strategies. Many of the characteristics which brought about the American Right to Know legislation are apparent in Canada. However, differences in the manner in which Canadian and American public and private sectors are organized are outlined, indicating why the American style legislation would be inappropriate in Canada. Nevertheless, a Canadian Right to Know system is required, although it is suggested that it be based upon the expert driven risk assessment and public information dissemination program, that characterizes on the European Community approach.

The Preparedness of Local Authorities for Crisis Communication with People who have Foreign Backgrounds – The Case of Sweden

Authors
Anna Olofsson
Issue
August 2007
Description
One of the most important aspects of crisis communication is that of reaching the target population in a severe and often chaotic situation. Therefore, crisis communication has to be customized not only to the situation but also to the population. The aim of this study is hence to investigate the preparedness of Swedish municipalities to communicate with people who have foreign backgrounds at times of crisis. A sample of 55% (n=160) of all Swedish municipalities were questioned regarding whether their crisis communication plans are adapted to this population segment and whether any preparedness measures have been taken. The results show that Swedish municipalities do not consider people with foreign backgrounds in their crisis communication to any great extent. However, the studied municipalities can be categorized as Active, Intermediary or Passive, and one important difference between the three groups is whether they have previous experience of crises where people with foreign backgrounds have been involved.

The Private and Social Benefits of Preparing For Natural Disasters

Authors
Robert Stein, Birnur Buzcu-Guven, Leonardo Duenas-Osorio and Devika Subramanian
Issue
November 2014
Description
In this paper we inquire about the consequences of preparing for hurricanes for individuals and the larger community. Are there collective action benefits from individual-level preparation activities; do the actions individuals take to prepare themselves for a pending hurricane have social benefits for the entire community? We identify shadow evacuations – persons evacuating from areas not designated for evacuation--as a significant social cost that might be mitigated by individual preparation for severe weather. We test our hypotheses with data from a survey conducted with residents of Harris County, Texas, after Hurricane Ike in 2008. We find that preparation has a negative effect on personal injury and property damage and that preparation has a significant and negative effect on the likelihood individuals evacuate, especially residents of non-evacuation areas (low risk areas). Our findings have strong implications on how emergency planners and local officials should prepare for and communicate with the public before severe weather episodes.

The Protective Action Decision Model Applied to Evacuation During the Three Mile Island Crisis

Authors
Michael K. Lindell, Teh Wei Hu, Paul D. Cleary, George Tokuhata, Cynthia B. Flynn, Peter S. Houts
Issue
March 1984
Description
Interviews with 1505 persons living within 55 miles of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant three months after the crisis were analyzed to test whether the protective action decision model could predict evacuation behavior during the crisis period. Results indicate that severity, susceptibility, barrier and cost variables were, as suggested by the model, related to evacuation behavior. In addition, several modifications to the model were suggested by the findings including a need to account for why conflicting information may increase evacuation in nuclear disasters while decreasing evacuation in nonnuclear disasters.

The Relationship between Physical Health Problems and Couple Violence and Conflict in Survivors of the 2004 Tsunami: Mediation by Marital Satisfaction

Authors
Alyssa Banford, Thulitha Wickrama, Matt Brown, and Scott Ketring
Issue
August 2011
Description
The impact of the 2004 East Asian Tsunami on Buddhist, Sri Lankan mothers’ relationships was investigated in this study. More specifically, the relationship between increased violence and conflict post-Tsunami and the daily intrusiveness of Tsunami-related persisting physical health problems was examined in a sample of 170 women, nearly four years after the disaster. Mediation by marital satisfaction, on the relationship between these variables, after controlling for mental health status was also tested. Increased couple violence or conflict post-Tsunami was significantly and positively related to the daily effect of persistent physical health problems resulting from the Tsunami. Full mediation was revealed through a pronounced path model negatively linking increased couple violence and conflict with marital satisfaction, and negatively linking marital satisfaction to the influence of physical health challenges.