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4 Research on Disaster Response and Recovery
Pages 124-179

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From page 124...
... As specified in that model, Chapter 3 discusses three sets of pre-disaster activities that have the potential to reduce disaster losses: hazard mitigation practices, emergency preparedness practices, and pre-disaster planning for post-disaster recovery. This chapter focuses on National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP)
From page 125...
... This section does not attempt to deal exhaustively with the topic of emergency response activities, which is the most-studied of all phases of hazard and disaster management. Rather, it highlights key themes in the literature, with an emphasis on NEHRP-based findings that are especially relevant in light of newly recognized human-induced threats.
From page 126...
... 126 FACING HAZARDS AND DISASTERS sion processes involved in self-protective action are similar across different types of disaster events, although the challenges posed and the problems that may develop can be agent specific. As in other areas discussed here, empirical studies on warning response and self-protective behavior in different types of disasters and emergencies have led to the development of broadly generalizable explanatory models.
From page 127...
... The behavior of occupants of the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack illustrates the importance of collectively developed definitions. Groups of people in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center decided that they should evacuate the building after seeing and hearing about what was happening in Tower 1 and after speaking with coworkers and loved ones, even when official announcements and other building occupants indicated that they should not do so.
From page 128...
... One practical implication of research on warnings is that rather than being concerned about panicking the public with warning information, or about communicating too much information, authorities should instead be seeking better ways to penetrate the normalcy bias, persuade people that they should be concerned about an impending danger, provide directives that are detailed enough to follow during an emergency, and encourage pre-disaster response planning so that people have thought through what to do prior to being required to act.
From page 129...
... . In arriving at decisions regarding evacuation, households take official orders into account, but they weigh those orders in light of their own priorities, other information sources, and their past experiences.
From page 130...
... Socially isolated individuals, such as elderly persons living alone, may lack the social support that is required to carry out self-protective actions. Members of minority groups may find majority spokespersons and official institutions less credible and believable than members of the white majority, turning instead to other sources, such as their informal social networks.
From page 131...
... PUBLIC RESPONSE Dispelling Myths About Crisis-Related Behavior: Panic and Social Breakdown Numerous individual studies and research syntheses have contrasted commonsense ideas about how people respond during crises with empirical data on actual behavior. Among the most important myths addressed in these analyses is the notion that panic and social disorganization are common responses to imminent threats and to actual disaster events (Quarantelli and Dynes, 1972; Johnson, 1987; Clarke, 2002)
From page 132...
... Such behaviors are more likely to emerge when those who are in danger come to believe that crisis management measures are ineffective, suggesting that enhancing public understanding of and trust in preparedness measures and in organizations charged with managing disasters can lessen the likelihood of panic. With respect to homeland security threats, some researchers have argued that the best way to "vaccinate" the public
From page 133...
... . Blaming the public for panicking during emergencies serves to diffuse responsibility from professionals whose duty it is to protect the public, such as emergency managers, fire and public safety officials, and those responsible for the design, construction, and safe operation of buildings and other structures (Sime, 1999)
From page 134...
... In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, social scientists had no problem understanding why episodes of looting might have been more widespread in that event than in the vast majority of U.S. disasters.
From page 135...
... As is the case with the panic myth, attributing the causes of looting behavior to individual motivations and impulses serves to deflect attention from the ways in which institutional failures can create insurmountable problems for disaster victims. When disasters occur, communications, disaster management, and service delivery systems should remain sufficiently robust that victims will not feel isolated and afraid or conclude that needed assistance will never arrive.
From page 136...
... In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center, for example, numerous groups emerged to offer every conceivable type of assistance to victims and emergency responders. Some were incorporated into official crisis management activities, while others were labeled "rogue volunteers" by official agencies (Halford and Nolan, 2002; Kendra and Wachtendorf, 2002)
From page 137...
... Organizations such as the Red Cross and the NVOAD federation thus provide an infrastructure that can support very extensive volunteer mobilization. That infrastructure will likely form the basis for organized volunteering in future homeland security emergencies, just as it does in major disasters.
From page 138...
... The research literature provides support for the inclusion of the voluntary sector and communitybased organizations in preparedness and response efforts. Initiatives that aim at encouraging public involvement in homeland security efforts of all types are clearly needed.
From page 139...
... awards, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) reconnaissance missions, earthquake center reconnaissance funding, and small grants such as those provided by the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, have supported the collection of perishable data and enabled social science researchers to mobilize rapidly following major earthquakes and other disasters.
From page 140...
... What is often incorrectly described as disaster-generated "chaos" is more accurately seen as the understandable confusion that results when mobilization takes place on such a massive scale and when organizations and groups that may be unfamiliar with one another attempt to communicate, negotiate, and coordinate their activities under extreme pressure. (For more detailed discussions on EMONs in disasters, including the 2001 World Trade Center attack, see Drabek, 1985, 2003; Tierney, 2003; Tierney and Trainor, 2004.)
From page 141...
... disaster researchers have identified two contrasting approaches to disaster response management, commonly termed the "command-andcontrol" and the "emergent human resources," or "problem-solving," models. The command-and-control model equates preparedness and response activities with military exercises.
From page 142...
... NEW WAYS OF FRAMING DISASTER MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES: DEALING WITH COMPLEXITY AND ACCOMMODATING EMERGENCE Advancements brought about through NEHRP research include new frameworks for conceptualizing responses to extreme events. In Shared Risk: Complex Systems in Seismic Response, a NEHRP-supported comparative study of organized responses to 11 different earthquake events, Comfort argues that the major challenge facing response systems is to use information in ways that enhance organizational and interorganizational learning and develop ways of "integrating both technical and organiza
From page 143...
... . PostKatrina debates on needed policy and programmatic changes will likely continue to focus on how to most effectively deploy military assets while ensuring that disaster management remains the responsibility of civilian institutions.
From page 144...
... . Nor was panic a factor in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center (Aguirre et al., 1998)
From page 145...
... . Social scientific studies on disasters have long shown that general features of extreme events, such as geographic scope and scale, impact severity, and speed of onset, combined with the overall quality of predisaster preparedness, have a greater influence on response patterns than do the specific hazard agents that trigger response activities.
From page 146...
... However, even though the topic has not been well studied, NEHRP-funded projects have done a great deal to advance social science understanding of disaster recovery. As discussed later in this section, they have also led to the development of decision tools and guidance that can be used to facilitate the recovery process for affected social units.
From page 147...
... More usefully, research has moved in the direction of making analytic distinctions among different types of disaster impacts, recovery activities undertaken by and affecting different social units, and recovery outcomes. Although disaster impacts can be positive or negative, research generally tends to focus on various negative impacts occurring at different levels of analysis.
From page 148...
... An emphasis on recovery as a multidimensional concept calls attention to the fact that physical and social impacts, recovery trajectories, and short- and longer-term outcomes in chronological and social time can vary considerably across social units. Recovery activities constitute measures that are intended to remedy negative disaster impacts, restore social units as much as possible to their pre-disaster levels of functioning, enhance resilience, and ideally, realize other objectives such as the mitigation of future disaster losses and improvements in the built environment, quality of life, and long-term sustainability.6 Recovery activities include the provision of temporary and replacement housing; the provision of resources (government aid, insurance payment, private donations)
From page 149...
... Past research tended to see disaster events as progressing from the pre-impact period through post-impact emergency response, and later recovery. In a classic work in this genre -- Reconstruction Following Disaster (Haas et al., 1977:xxvi)
From page 150...
... Thus, in addition to focusing on what was lost or affected as a consequence of disaster events and on outcomes relative to those impacts, recovery research also focuses on more general post-disaster issues, such as the extent to which disasters influence and interact with ongoing processes of social change, whether disaster impacts can be distinguished from those resulting
From page 151...
... Analyzing Impacts and Recovery Across Different Social Units. Following from the discussions above, it is useful to keep in mind several points about research on disaster recovery.
From page 152...
... Are such problems the direct result of trauma experienced during disaster, the result of disaster-induced stresses, a reflection of a lack of coping capacity or weak social support networks, a function of preexisting vulnerabilities, or a combination of all these factors? Related concerns center on what constitute appropriate forms of intervention and service delivery strategies for disaster-related psychological problems.
From page 153...
... An important epidemiologic study on the incidence of trauma and the subsequent risk of developing PTSD after various types of traumatic events estimates the risk at about 3.8 percent for natural disasters (Breslau et al., 1998; Kessler and Zhao, 1999)
From page 154...
... . Again, drawing conclusions about the relative influence of agent characteristics -- as opposed to other factors -- is difficult because studies vary so much in their timing, research designs, methodological approaches, and procedures for defining disaster victimization.
From page 155...
... disasters as low, moderate, and high in their psychosocial impacts, based on empirical data on postdisaster distress. The Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes were seen as having relatively few adverse impacts, and Hurricane Hugo and Three Mile Island were classified as moderate in their effects.
From page 156...
... If, as Norris and her collaborators indicate, Hurricane Andrew resulted in relatively high levels of psychosocial distress, what will researchers find with respect to Katrina? For many victims, Katrina appears to contain all of the ingredients necessary to produce negative mental health outcomes: massive, catastrophic impacts; high property losses resulting in financial distress; exposure to traumas such as prolonged physical stress and contact with dead and dying victims; disruption of social networks; massive failures in service delivery systems; continual uncertainty about the future; and residential dislocation on a scale never seen in a U.S.
From page 157...
... Accordingly, the literature has explored various dimensions of household impacts and recovery, including direct impacts such as those highlighted by Bolin; changes in the quality and cohesiveness of relationships among household members; post-disaster problems such as conflict and domestic violence; stressors that affect households during the recovery process; and coping strategies employed by households, including the use of both formal and informal sources of post-disaster support and recovery aid. The literature also points to a number of factors that are associated with differences in short- and longer-term household recovery outcomes.
From page 158...
... .9 Large-Scale Comparative Research on Household Recovery. Although there is clearly a need for such research, few studies exist that compare household recovery processes and outcomes across communities and disaster events.
From page 159...
... Poverty often forces people to live in substandard or highly vulnerable housing -- manufactured housing is one example -- leaving them more vulnerable to death, injury, and homelessness. As discussed in Chapter 3 with respect to disaster preparedness, factors such as income, education, and homeownership influence the ability of households to mitigate and prepare for disasters.
From page 160...
... For example, as part of the NEHRP-sponsored "Second Assessment of Research on Natural Hazards," researchers attempted to estimates losses, costs, and other impacts from a wide array of natural and technological hazards.10 For the 20 year period 1975­1994, they estimated that dollar losses from disasters amounted to $.5 billion per week, with climatological hazards accounting for about 80 percent of those losses; since 1989, losses have totaled $1 billion per week (Mileti, 1999a)
From page 161...
... observed that lower-income groups consistently bear a disproportionate share of disaster losses, relative to higher-income groups. This theme continues to be promi 11 These findings refer to the impacts of disasters on societal-level economic indicators.
From page 162...
... . The framework for estimating losses from natural hazards was initially laid out more than 20 years ago in publications such as Petak and Atkisson's Natural Hazard Risk Assessment and Public Policy (1982)
From page 163...
... The nation is now better able to address the issue of terrorism-related losses because of the investments that had been made earlier for earthquakes and other natural hazards. Significantly, when the Department of Homeland Security decided in 2003 to begin funding
From page 164...
... . Long-term business recovery has been studied in the context of only two disaster events -- the Loma Prieta earthquake and Hurricane Andrew (Webb et al., 2003)
From page 165...
... . Actions that communities take with respect to land-use, structural mitigation, infrastructure protection, community education, and emergency response planning also affect how businesses and business districts fare during and after disasters.
From page 166...
... This study provides yet another illustration of how disasters exploit existing vulnerabilities. It also cautions against making blanket statements about disaster impacts and recovery.
From page 167...
... This chapter focuses in a more limited way on what little research exists on disaster impacts and post-disaster change at the societal level. Regarding long-term societal impacts, researchers have generally found that disasters, even very large ones, typically do not in and of themselves result in significant change in the societies they affect.
From page 168...
... OTHER DISASTER RECOVERY-RELATED ISSUES Disaster Experience and the Mitigation of Future Hazards Social science research has also focused in various ways on the question of whether the positive informational effects of disasters constitute learning
From page 169...
... Further complicating matters, policies adopted in the aftermath of disasters, like other policies, may meet with resistance and be only partially implemented -- or implemented in ways that were never intended. While it is possible to point to examples of successful policy adoption and implementation in the aftermath of disasters, such outcomes are by no means inevitable, and when they do occur, they are typically traceable to other factors, not just to disaster events themselves.
From page 170...
... Disaster Recovery and Sustainability As discussed in more detail in Chapter 6, which focuses on international research, disaster theory and research have increasingly emphasized the extent to which vulnerability to disasters can be linked to unsustainable development practices. Indeed, the connection between disaster loss reduction and sustainability was a key organizing principle of the NEHRP-sponsored Second Assessment of Research on Natural Hazards.
From page 171...
... As the foregoing discussions have indicated, existing research has raised numerous questions that need to be addressed through future research. This concluding section highlights general areas in which new research is clearly needed, both to test the limits of current social science knowledge and to take into account broad societal changes and issues of disaster severity and scale.
From page 172...
... also offers insights into correlates of resilience at the organizational and interorganizational levels. As suggested in Chapter 6, the social capital construct and related concepts such as civic engagement and effective collective action are also related to resilience.
From page 173...
... The potential for ambiguity and confusion with respect to public communications may also be greater for homeland security threats and public health hazards such as avian flu than for other hazards. For example, warning systems and protocols are more institutionalized and more widely understood for natural hazards than for homeland security and public health threats.
From page 174...
... ; the transfer of FEMA, formerly an independent agency, into DHS; the shifting of many duties and responsibilities formerly undertaken by FEMA to DHS's Office of Domestic Preparedness, which was formerly a part of the Justice Department; the development of the National Response Plan, which supercedes the Federal Response Plan; Presidential Homeland Security Directives 5 and 8, which make the use of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) mandatory for all agencies and organizations involved in responding to disasters and also mandate the establishment of new national preparedness goals; and increases in funding for special homeland security-related initiatives, particularly those involving "first responders." Other changes include a greater emphasis on regionalized approaches to preparedness and response and the growth at the federal, state, and local levels of offices and departments focusing specifically on homeland security issues -- entities that in many cases exist alongside "traditional" emergency management agencies.
From page 175...
... Will the investment in homeland security preparedness translate into more rapid, appropriate, and effective responses to natural and technological disasters, or will the new focus on homeland security lead to an erosion in the competencies required to manage other types of emergencies? A major research initiative is needed to analyze the intended and unintended consequences in social time and space of the massive changes that have taken place in the nation's emergency management system since September 11, 2001.
From page 176...
... In the more than 15 years since Drabek (1991b) wrote Microcomputers and Emergency Management, which focused on the ways in which computers were affecting the work of local emergency management agencies, technological change has been rapid and massive.
From page 177...
... In some cases, these initiatives have led to longer-term research partnerships; Chapter 6 contains information on one such collaboration, involving the Texas A&M University Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center and the National Center for Hazards Mitigation at the National
From page 178...
... For social scientists to be able to fully exploit the data that currently exist, let alone the volume of data that will be collected in the future, specific steps have to be taken to make available and systematically collect, preserve, and disseminate such data appropriately within the research community. As recommended in Chapter 7, information management strategies must be well coordinated, formally planned, and consistent with federal guidelines governing the protection of information on human subjects.
From page 179...
... Other issues include challenges associated with the development and enforcement of quality control standards, rules and standards for data sharing, procedures to ensure that proper acknowledgment is given to project sponsors and principal investigators, and questions about long-term management of the archive. Related to the need for better data archiving, sharing, and dissemination strategies, social scientists must be poised to take advantage of new capabilities for data integration and fusion.


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