The 1984 explosion of the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India was undisputedly one of the world's worst industrial disasters. Some have argued that the resulting litigation provided an "innovative model" for dealing with the global distribution of technological risk; others consider the disaster a turning point in environmental legislation; still others argue that Bhopal is what globalization looks like on the ground.
Kim Fortun explores these claims by focusing on the dynamics and paradoxes of advocacy in competing power domains. She moves from hospitals in India to meetings with lawyers, corporate executives, and environmental justice activists in the United States to show how the disaster and its effects remain with us. Spiraling outward from the victims' stories, the innovative narrative sheds light on the way advocacy works within a complex global system, calling into question conventional notions of responsibility and ethical conduct. Revealing the hopes and frustrations of advocacy, this moving work also counters the tendency to think of Bhopal as an isolated incident that "can't happen here."
When the terrorist attacks struck New York City on September 11, 2001, boat operators and waterfront workers quickly realized that they had the skills, the equipment, and the opportunity to take definite, immediate action in responding to the most significant destructive event in the United States in decades. For many of them, they were “doing what needed to be done.”
American Dunkirk shows how people, many of whom were volunteers, mobilized rescue efforts in various improvised and spontaneous ways on that fateful date. Disaster experts James Kendra and Tricia Wachtendorf examine the efforts through fieldwork and interviews with many of the participants to understand the evacuation and its larger implications for the entire practice of disaster management.
The authors ultimately explore how people—as individuals, groups, and formal organizations—pull together to respond to and recover from startling, destructive events. American Dunkirk asks, What can these people and lessons teach us about not only surviving but thriving in the face of calamity?
Despite the devastation caused by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 60-foot tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, some 96% of those living and working in the most disaster-stricken region of Tōhoku made it through. Smaller earthquakes and tsunamis have killed far more people in nearby China and India. What accounts for the exceptionally high survival rate? And why is it that some towns and cities in the Tōhoku region have built back more quickly than others?
Black Wave illuminates two critical factors that had a direct influence on why survival rates varied so much across the Tōhoku region following the 3/11 disasters and why the rebuilding process has also not moved in lockstep across the region. Individuals and communities with stronger networks and better governance, Daniel P. Aldrich shows, had higher survival rates and accelerated recoveries. Less-connected communities with fewer such ties faced harder recovery processes and lower survival rates. Beyond the individual and neighborhood levels of survival and recovery, the rebuilding process has varied greatly, as some towns and cities have sought to work independently on rebuilding plans, ignoring recommendations from the national government and moving quickly to institute their own visions, while others have followed the guidelines offered by Tokyo-based bureaucrats for economic development and rebuilding.
Each year, natural disasters threaten the strength and stability of communities worldwide. Yet responses to the challenges of recovery vary greatly and in ways that aren’t explained by the magnitude of the catastrophe or the amount of aid provided by national governments or the international community. The difference between resilience and disrepair, as Daniel P. Aldrich shows, lies in the depth of communities’ social capital.
Building Resilience highlights the critical role of social capital in the ability of a community to withstand disaster and rebuild both the infrastructure and the ties that are at the foundation of any community. Aldrich examines the post-disaster responses of four distinct communities—Tokyo following the 1923 earthquake, Kobe after the 1995 earthquake, Tamil Nadu after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and New Orleans post-Katrina—and finds that those with robust social networks were better able to coordinate recovery. In addition to quickly disseminating information and financial and physical assistance, communities with an abundance of social capital were able to minimize the migration of people and valuable resources out of the area.
With governments increasingly overstretched and natural disasters likely to increase in frequency and intensity, a thorough understanding of what contributes to efficient reconstruction is more important than ever. Building Resilience underscores a critical component of an effective response.
From 9/11 to Katrina, from Darfur to the Minnesota bridge collapse, ours is an "age of catastrophe." In this era, catastrophic events seem to have a revelatory quality: they offer powerful reminders of the fragility of our social and institutional architectures, making painfully evident vulnerabilities in our social organization that were otherwise invisible. By disrupting the operation of fundamental mechanisms and infrastructures of the social order, they lay bare the conditions that make our sense of normalcy possible.
At a time when societies are directing an unprecedented level of resources and ingenuity to anticipating and mitigating catastrophic events, Catastrophe: Law, Politics, and the Humanitarian Impulse examines the tests that catastrophe poses to politics and humanitarianism as well as to the law. It explores legal, political, and humanitarian responses during times when the sudden, discontinuous, and disastrous event has become, perhaps paradoxically, a structural component of our political imagination. It asks whether law, politics, and humanitarianism live up to the tests posed by disaster, and the role all of them play in creating a more resilient world.
Taken together the essays in this book ask us to see through and beyond the myths that surround catastrophe and our responses to it. They ask us to rethink our understanding of catastrophe and to imagine new legal, political, and humanitarian responses.
In addition to the editors, contributors include Thomas Birkland, Michele Landis Dauber, Kim Fortun, Edward Rackley, Peter Redfield, Peter H. Schuck, and Susan Sterett.
In 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina cut a deadly path along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, researchers J. Steven Picou and Keith Nicholls conducted a survey of the survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi, receiving more than twenty-five hundred responses, and followed up two years later with their than five hundred of the initial respondents. Showcasing these landmark findings, Caught in the Path of Katrina: A Survey of the Hurricane's Human Effects yields a more complete understanding of the traumas endured as a result of the Storm of the Century.
The authors report on evacuation behaviors, separations from family, damage to homes, and physical and psychological conditions among residents of seven of the parishes and counties that bore the brunt of Katrina. The findings underscore the frequently disproportionate suffering of African Americans and the agonizingly slow pace of recovery. Highlighting the lessons learned, the book offers suggestions for improved governmental emergency management techniques to increase preparedness, better mitigate storm damage, and reduce the level of trauma in future disasters. Multiple major hurricanes have unleashed their destruction in the years since Katrina, making this a crucial study whose importance only continues to grow.
"Civic engagement has been underrated and overlooked. Koritz and Sanchez illuminate the power of what community engagement through art and culture revitalization can do to give voice to the voiceless and a sense of being to those displaced."
---Sonia BasSheva Mañjon, Wesleyan University
"This profound and eloquent collection describes and assesses the new coalitions bringing a city back to life. It's a powerful call to expand our notions of culture, social justice, and engaged scholarship. I'd put this on my 'must read' list."
---Nancy Cantor, Syracuse University
"Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina is a rich and compelling text for thinking about universities and the arts amid social crisis. Americans need to hear the voices of colleagues who were caught in Katrina's wake and who responded with commitment, creativity, and skill."
---Peter Levine, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement)
This collection of essays documents the ways in which educational institutions and the arts community responded to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. While firmly rooted in concrete projects, Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina also addresses the larger issues raised by committed public scholarship. How can higher education institutions engage with their surrounding communities? What are the pros and cons of "asset-based" and "outreach" models of civic engagement? Is it appropriate for the private sector to play a direct role in promoting civic engagement? How does public scholarship impact traditional standards of academic evaluation? Throughout the volume, this diverse collection of essays paints a remarkably consistent and persuasive account of arts-based initiatives' ability to foster social and civic renewal.
Amy Koritz is Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Professor of English at Drew University.
George J. Sanchez is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and History at the University of Southern California.
Front and rear cover designs, photographs, and satellite imagery processing by Richard Campanella.
digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at www.digitalculture.org.
In the spring and summer of 1927, the Mississippi River and its tributaries flooded from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico, tearing through seven states, sometimes spreading out to nearly one hundred miles across. Pete Daniel’s Deep’n as It Come, available again in a new format, chronicles the worst flood in the history of the South and re-creates, with extraordinary immediacy, the Mississippi River’s devastating assault on property and lives.
Daniel weaves his narrative with newspaper and firsthand accounts, interviews and survivors, official reports, and over 140 contemporary photographs. The story of the common refugee who suffered most of the effects of the flood emerges alongside the details of the massive rescue and relief operation—one of the largest ever mounted in the United States. The title, Deep’n as It Come, is a phrase from Cora Lee Campbell’s early description of he approaching water, which, Daniel writes, “moved at a pace of some fourteen miles per day,” and in its movement and sound, “had the eeriness of a full eclipse of t he sun, unsettling, chilling.”
“The contradictions of sorrow and humor. . . death and salvation, despair and hope, calm and panic—all reveal the human dimension” in this compassionate and unforgettable portrait of common people confronting a great natural disaster.
On August 28, 2011, after pounding the Caribbean and the U.S. Eastern seaboard for more than a week, Hurricane Irene finally made landfall in New Jersey. As the storm headed into New England, it was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm. And by Sunday afternoon, national news outlets were giving postmortems on the damage. Except for some flooding in low-lying areas, New York City—Irene’s biggest target—had escaped its worst-case scenario. Story over. But the story wasn’t over. As Irene’s eye drifted north, its bands of heavy rains twisted westward over Vermont’s Green Mountains. The mountains forced these bands upward, wringing the rain out of them like water from a sponge. Streams and rivers were transformed into torrents of brown water and debris, gouging mountainsides, reshaping valleys, washing out roads, pulling apart bridges, and carrying away homes, livestock, and automobiles. For weeks, mountain towns were isolated, with no way in or out, and thousands of people were left homeless. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, it fell on the shoulders of ordinary Vermonters to help victims and rebuild the state. Deluge is the complete story of the floods, the rescue, and the recovery, as seen through the eyes of the people who lived through them: Wilmington’s Lisa Sullivan, whose bookstore was flooded, and town clerk Susie Haughwout, who saved the town records; Tracy Payne, who lost her home in Jamaica—everything in it, and the land on which it sat; Geo Honigford in South Royalton, who lost his crops, but put his own mess on hold to help others in the town; the men who put U.S. Route 4 back together at breakneck speed; and the entire village of Pittsfield, completely isolated after the storm, and its inspirational story of real community.
A century ago, governments buoyed by Progressive Era–beliefs began to assume greater responsibility for protecting and rescuing citizens. Yet the aftermath of two disasters in the United States–Canada borderlands--the Salem Fire of 1914 and the Halifax Explosion of 1917--saw working class survivors instead turn to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members for succor and aid. Both official and unofficial responses, meanwhile, showed how the United States and Canada were linked by experts, workers, and money.
In Disaster Citizenship, Jacob A. C. Remes draws on histories of the Salem and Halifax events to explore the institutions--both formal and informal--that ordinary people relied upon in times of crisis. He explores patterns and traditions of self-help, informal order, and solidarity and details how people adapted these traditions when necessary. Yet, as he shows, these methods--though often quick and effective--remained illegible to reformers. Indeed, soldiers, social workers, and reformers wielding extraordinary emergency powers challenged these grassroots practices to impose progressive "solutions" on what they wrongly imagined to be a fractured social landscape.
In recent years, the number of presidential declarations of “major disasters” has skyrocketed. Such declarations make stricken areas eligible for federal emergency relief funds that greatly reduce their costs. But is federalizing the costs of disasters helping to lighten the overall burden of disasters or is it making matters worse? Does it remove incentives for individuals and local communities to take measures to protect themselves? Are people more likely to invest in property in hazardous locations in the belief that, if worse comes to worst, the federal government will bail them out?
Disasters and Democracy addresses the political response to natural disasters, focusing specifically on the changing role of the federal government from distant observer to immediate responder and principal financier of disaster costs.
Hurricane Katrina forced the largest and most abrupt displacement in U.S. history. About 1.5 million people evacuated from the Gulf Coast preceding Katrina’s landfall. New Orleans, a city of 500,000, was nearly emptied of life after the hurricane and flooding. Katrina survivors eventually scattered across all fifty states, and tens of thousands still remain displaced. Some are desperate to return to the Gulf Coast but cannot find the means. Others have chosen to make their homes elsewhere. Still others found a way to return home but were unable to stay due to the limited availability of social services, educational opportunities, health care options, and affordable housing.
The contributors to Displaced have been following the lives of Katrina evacuees since 2005. In this illuminating book, they offer the first comprehensive analysis of the experiences of the displaced. Drawing on research in thirteen communities in seven states across the country, the contributors describe the struggles that evacuees have faced in securing life-sustaining resources and rebuilding their lives. They also recount the impact that the displaced have had on communities that initially welcomed them and then later experienced “Katrina fatigue” as the ongoing needs of evacuees strained local resources. Displaced reveals that Katrina took a particularly heavy toll on households headed by low-income African American women who lost the support provided by local networks of family and friends. It also shows the resilience and resourcefulness of Katrina evacuees who have built new networks and partnered with community organizations and religious institutions to create new lives in the diaspora.
When disasters strike, people are not the only victims. Hurricane Katrina raised public attention about how disasters affect dogs, cats, and other animals considered members of the human family. In this short but powerful book, now available in paperback, noted sociologist Leslie Irvine goes beyond Katrina to examine how oil spills, fires, and other calamities affect various animal populations—on factory farms, in research facilities, and in the wild.
In a new preface, Irvine surveys the state of animal welfare in disasters since the first edition. Filling the Ark argues that humans cause most of the risks faced by animals and urges for better decisions about the treatment of animals in disasters. Furthermore, it makes a broad appeal for the ethical necessity of better planning to keep animals out of jeopardy. Irvine not only offers policy recommendations and practical advice for evacuating animals, she also makes a strong case for rethinking our use of animals, suggesting ways to create more secure conditions.
Winner of the Florida Historical Society's 2015 Stetson Kennedy Award
The 1980 Mariel Boatlift was a profound episode in twentieth-century American history, impacting not just Florida, but the entire country. During the first twenty days of the boatlift, with little support from the federal government, the state of Florida coordinated and responded to the sudden arrival in Key West of more than thirty thousand Cuban refugees, the first wave of immigrants who became known as “Marielitos.”
Kathleen Dupes Hawk, Ron Villella, Adolfo Leyva de Varona, and Kristen Cifers combine the insights of expert observers with the experiences of actual participants. The authors organize and present a wealth of primary sources, first-hand accounts, archival research, government records, and interviews with policy-makers, volunteers, and refugees that bring into focus the many far-reaching human, political, and cultural outcomes of the Mariel Boatlift that continue to influence Florida, the United States, and Cuba today.
Emerging from these key records and accounts is a grand narrative of high human drama. Castro’s haphazard and temporary opening of Cuba spurred many thousands of Cubans to depart in calamitously rushed, unprepared, and dangerous conditions. The book tells the stories of these Cuban citizens, most legitimately seeking political asylum but also including subversive agents, convicted criminals, and the mentally ill, who began arriving in the US beginning in April 1980. It also recounts how local and state agencies and private volunteers with few directives or resources were left to improvise ways to provide the Marielitos food, shelter, and security as well as transportation away from Key West.
The book provides a definitive account of the political, legal, and administrative twists on the local, state, and federal levels in response to the crisis as well as of the often-dysfunctional attempts at collaboration between governmental and private institutions. Vivid and readable, Florida and the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 presents the significant details that illuminate and humanize this complex humanitarian, political, and logistical crisis.
Natural disasters, the effects of climate change, and political upheavals and war have driven tens of millions of people from their homes and spurred intense debates about how governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) should respond with long-term resettlement strategies. Many resettlement efforts have focused primarily on providing infrastructure and have done little to help displaced people and communities rebuild social structure, which has led to resettlement failures throughout the world. So what does it take to transform a resettlement into a successful community?
This book offers the first long-term comparative study of social outcomes through a case study of two Honduran resettlements built for survivors of Hurricane Mitch (1998) by two different NGOs. Although residents of each arrived from the same affected neighborhoods and have similar demographics, twelve years later one resettlement wrestles with high crime, low participation, and low social capital, while the other maintains low crime, a high degree of social cohesion, participation, and general social health. Using a multi-method approach of household surveys, interviews, ethnography, and analysis of NGO and community documents, Ryan Alaniz demonstrates that these divergent resettlement trajectories can be traced back to the type and quality of support provided by external organizations and the creation of a healthy, cohesive community culture. His findings offer important lessons and strategies that can be utilized in other places and in future resettlement policy to achieve the most effective and positive results.
In a timely book with a powerful and persuasive message, Dr. Harold G. Koenig addresses federal, state, and local government policy leaders, urging them to more fully integrate religious organizations into the formal disaster response system, and he then provides recommendations on how this can effectively be done. Koenig also advocates faith communities and organizations to learn more about the role they can play in responding to disasters and terrorism.
The chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina made extraordinarily clear the gaps in the United States' disaster policies. At the same time, the contributions of organized faith communities were highlights amidst the bungled federal, state, and local responses. One example is the New York Times, September 9, 2005, headline: "A New Meaning for 'Organized Religion': It Helps the Needy Quickly." But as faith-based organizations look for ways to help, there are few, if any, guidelines for them.
This book provides information on the psychological, social, and spiritual responses to trauma. It addresses how the emergency response system works, and the role that religious communities can play in disaster response and recovery in terms of providing emotional and spiritual care for victims. It advocates integrating mental health into emergency response systems directed at those affected by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and terrorism. "The aim is to help victims of disaster to better cope with the stresses they face, as well as help direct care workers (firefighters, police, health care providers, etc.) to deal better emotionally with the trauma to which they are exposed so they can remain effective and functional on the job," explains
Dr. Koenig, whose research on the healing power of faith has been published worldwide.
Increasing the resiliency of our communities in the face of disaster is crucial. Religious communities have tremendous potential to contribute to this. Here are guidelines on how to do that more effectively, alongside data on how to facilitate the integration of these contributions with the formal disaster-response system.
Katrina's Imprint highlights the power of this sentinel American event and its continuing reverberations in contemporary politics, culture, and public policy. Published on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the multidisciplinary volume reflects on how history, location, access to transportation, health care, and social position feed resilience, recovery, and prospects for the future of New Orleans and the Gulf region. Essays examine the intersecting vulnerabilities that gave rise to the disaster, explore the cultural and psychic legacies of the storm, reveal how the process of rebuilding and starting over replicates past vulnerabilities, and analyze Katrina's imprint alongside American's myths of self-sufficiency. A case study of new weaknesses that have emerged in our era, this book offers an argument for why we cannot wait for the next disaster before we apply the lessons that should be learned from Katrina.
Around the world disaster vulnerability is on the rise. The incidence and intensity of disasters have increased in recent decades with lives being shattered and resources being destroyed across broad geographic regions each year.
As it swept across the Honduran landscape, the exceptional size, power and duration of Hurricane Mitch abruptly and brutally altered the already diminished economic, social, and environmental conditions of the population. In the aftermath of the disaster a group of seven socio-environmental scientists set out to investigate the root causes of the heightened vulnerability that characterized pre-Mitch Honduras, the impact of the catastrophe on the local society, and the subsequent recovery efforts. Edited by Marisa O. Ensor, this volume presents the findings of their investigation.
The Legacy of Hurricane Mitch offers a comprehensive analysis of the immediate and long-term consequences of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras. Based on longitudinal ethnographic fieldwork and environmental assessments, this volume illustrates the importance of adopting an approach to disaster research and practice that places “natural” trigger events within their political, cultural, and socio-economic contexts. The contributors make a compelling case against post-disaster recovery efforts that limit themselves to alleviating the symptoms, rather than confronting the root causes of the vulnerability that prefigured the disaster.
Even before the wreckage of a disaster is cleared, one question is foremost in the minds of the public: "What can be done to prevent this from happening again?" Today, news media and policymakers often invoke the "lessons of September 11" and the "lessons of Hurricane Katrina." Certainly, these unexpected events heightened awareness about problems that might have contributed to or worsened the disasters, particularly about gaps in preparation. Inquiries and investigations are made that claim that "lessons" were "learned" from a disaster, leading us to assume that we will be more ready the next time a similar threat looms, and that our government will put in place measures to protect us.
In Lessons of Disaster, Thomas Birkland takes a critical look at this assumption. We know that disasters play a role in setting policy agendas—in getting policymakers to think about problems—but does our government always take the next step and enact new legislation or regulations? To determine when and how a catastrophic event serves as a catalyst for true policy change, the author examines four categories of disasters: aviation security, homeland security, earthquakes, and hurricanes. He explores lessons learned from each, focusing on three types of policy change: change in the larger social construction of the issues surrounding the disaster; instrumental change, in which laws and regulations are made; and political change, in which alliances are created and shifted. Birkland argues that the type of disaster affects the types of lessons learned from it, and that certain conditions are necessary to translate awareness into new policy, including media attention, salience for a large portion of the public, the existence of advocacy groups for the issue, and the preexistence of policy ideas that can be drawn upon.
This timely study concludes with a discussion of the interplay of multiple disasters, focusing on the initial government response to Hurricane Katrina and the negative effect the September 11 catastrophe seems to have had on reaction to that tragedy.
This book reflects an important shift in society's definition of disaster. For centuries catastrophic events have been considered "acts of God" and therefore uncontrollable by definition. Managing Disaster is international in scope, covering such natural and man-made calamities as tornadoes in western Pennsylvania, earthquakes in Peru, flooding in the Netherlands, and toxic waste disasters.
Centers for hazard studies have only recently examined the interrelated aspects of disastrous events and recognized the interaction between natural hazards and human systems. As society attempts to acquire the information and develop the skills to reduce the risks and damage from disaster, an increasingly professional public service is reconsidering its strategies and policy direction. Managing Disaster addresses this problem and the need for a new approach to teaching this subject at the university level. Twenty-three professionals and scholars in public policy and administration—rom universities, government, and the private sector—examine the basic issues confronting managers and public agencies in the face of disaster.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, generated a great deal of discussion in public policy and disaster management circles about the importance of increasing national resilience to rebound from catastrophic events. Since the majority of physical and virtual networks that the United States relies upon are owned and operated by the private sector, a consensus has emerged that public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a crucial aspect of an effective resilience strategy. Significant barriers to cooperation persist, however, despite acknowledgment that public–private collaboration for managing disasters would be mutually beneficial.
Managing Disasters through Public–Private Partnerships constitutes the first in-depth exploration of PPPs as tools of disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and resilience in the United States. The author assesses the viability of PPPs at the federal level and explains why attempts to develop these partnerships have largely fallen short. The book assesses the recent history and current state of PPPs in the United States, with particular emphasis on the lessons of 9/11 and Katrina, and discusses two of the most significant PPPs in US history, the Federal Reserve System and the War Industries Board from World War I. The author develops two original frameworks to compare different kinds of PPPs and analyzes the critical factors that make them successes or failures, pointing toward ways to improve collaboration in the future.
This book should be of interest to researchers and students in public policy, public administration, disaster management, infrastructure protection, and security; practitioners who work on public–private partnerships; and corporate as well as government emergency management professionals and specialists.
Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith is an ethnographic account of long-term recovery in post-Katrina New Orleans. It is also a sobering exploration of the privatization of vital social services under market-driven governance. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, public agencies subcontracted disaster relief to private companies that turned the humanitarian work of recovery into lucrative business. These enterprises profited from the very suffering that they failed to ameliorate, producing a second-order disaster that exacerbated inequalities based on race and class and leaving residents to rebuild almost entirely on their own.
Filled with the often desperate voices of residents who returned to New Orleans, Markets of Sorrow, Labors of Faith describes the human toll of disaster capitalism and the affect economy it has produced. While for-profit companies delayed delivery of federal resources to returning residents, faith-based and nonprofit groups stepped in to rebuild, compelled by the moral pull of charity and the emotional rewards of volunteer labor. Adams traces the success of charity efforts, even while noting an irony of neoliberalism, which encourages the very same for-profit companies to exploit these charities as another market opportunity. In so doing, the companies profit not once but twice on disaster.
The first half of the 1990s saw the largest and most costly floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes in the history of the United States. While natural hazards cannot be prevented, their human impacts can be greatly reduced through advance action that mitigates risks and reduces vulnerability.
Natural Hazard Mitigation describes and analyzes the way that hazard mitigation has been carried out in the U.S. under our national disaster law, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. It is the first systematic study of the complete intergovernmental system for natural hazard mitigation, including its major elements and the linkages among them.
analyzes the effectiveness of the Stafford Act and investigates what is contained in state hazard mitigation plans required by the Act
studies how federal hazard mitigation funds have been spent
explores what goes into decision making following a major disaster
looks at how government mitigation officials rate the effectiveness of the mitigation system
suggests changes that could help solve the widely recognized problems with current methods of coping with disasters
Damages from natural disasters are reaching catastrophic proportions, making natural hazard mitigation an important national policy issue. The findings and recommendations presented in this volume should help to strengthen natural hazard mitigation policy and practice, thereby serving to reduce drains on the federal treasury that pay for preventable recovery and relief costs, and to spare residents in areas hit by natural disasters undue suffering and expense. It is an informative and eye-opening study for planners, policymakers, students of planning and geography, and professionals working for government agencies that deal with natural hazards.
Scientists who specialize in the study of Mississippi Valley earthquakes say that the region is overdue for a powerful tremor that will cause major damage and undoubtedly some casualties.
The inevitability of a future quake and the lack of preparation by both individuals and communities provided the impetus for this book. Atkinson brings together applicable information from many disciplines: history, geology and seismology, engineering, zoology, politics and community planning, economics, environmental science, sociology, and psychology and mental health to provide the most comprehensive perspective to date of the myriad impacts of a major earthquake on the Mississippi Valley.
Atkinson addresses such basic questions as "What, actually, are earthquakes? How do they occur? Where are they likely to occur? Can they be predicted, perhaps even prevented?" He also addresses those steps that individuals can take to improve their chances for survival both during and after an earthquake.
A lethal mix of natural disaster, dangerously flawed construction, and reckless human actions devastated San Francisco in 1906 and New Orleans in 2005. Eighty percent of the built environments of both cities were destroyed in the catastrophes, and the poor, the elderly, and the medically infirm were disproportionately among the thousands who perished. These striking similarities in the impacts of cataclysms separated by a century impelled Steve Kroll-Smith to look for commonalities in how the cities recovered from disaster. In Recovering Inequality, he builds a convincing case that disaster recovery and the reestablishment of social and economic inequality are inseparable.
Kroll-Smith demonstrates that disaster and recovery in New Orleans and San Francisco followed a similar pattern. In the immediate aftermath of the flooding and the firestorm, social boundaries were disordered and the communities came together in expressions of unity and support. But these were quickly replaced by other narratives and actions, including the depiction of the poor as looters, uneven access to disaster assistance, and successful efforts by the powerful to take valuable urban real estate from vulnerable people. Kroll-Smith concludes that inexorable market forces ensured that recovery efforts in both cities would reestablish the patterns of inequality that existed before the catastrophes. The major difference he finds between the cities is that, from a market standpoint, New Orleans was expendable, while San Francisco rose from the ashes because it was a hub of commerce.
Combining the experiences of ordinary people with urban politics and history, Saving San Francisco challenges the long-lived myth that the 1906 disaster erased social differences as it leveled the city. Highlighting new evidence from San Francisco’s relief camps, Andrea Rees Davies shows that as policy makers directed various forms of aid to groups and projects that enjoyed high social status before the disaster, the widespread need and dislocation created opportunities for some groups to challenge biased relief policy. Poor and working-class refugees organized successful protests, while Chinatown business leaders and middle-class white women mobilized resources for the less privileged. Ultimately, however, the political and financial elite shaped relief and reconstruction efforts and cemented social differences in San Francisco.
Even as unemployment rates soared during the Great Depression, FDR’s relief and social security programs faced attacks in Congress and the courts on the legitimacy of federal aid to the growing population of poor. In response, New Dealers pointed to a long tradition—dating back to 1790 and now largely forgotten—of federal aid to victims of disaster. In The Sympathetic State, Michele Landis Dauber recovers this crucial aspect of American history, tracing the roots of the modern American welfare state beyond the New Deal and the Progressive Era back to the earliest days of the republic when relief was forthcoming for the victims of wars, fires, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
Drawing on a variety of materials, including newspapers, legal briefs, political speeches, the art and literature of the time, and letters from thousands of ordinary Americans, Dauber shows that while this long history of government disaster relief has faded from our memory today, it was extremely well known to advocates for an expanded role for the national government in the 1930s, including the Social Security Act. Making this connection required framing the Great Depression as a disaster afflicting citizens though no fault of their own. Dauber argues that the disaster paradigm, though successful in defending the New Deal, would ultimately come back to haunt advocates for social welfare. By not making a more radical case for relief, proponents of the New Deal helped create the weak, uniquely American welfare state we have today—one torn between the desire to come to the aid of those suffering and the deeply rooted suspicion that those in need are responsible for their own deprivation.
Contrary to conventional thought, the history of federal disaster relief is one of remarkable consistency, despite significant political and ideological change. Dauber’s pathbreaking and highly readable book uncovers the historical origins of the modern American welfare state.
In the early days of 1937, the Ohio River, swollen by heavy winter rains, began rising. And rising. And rising. By the time the waters crested, the Ohio and Mississippi had climbed to record heights. Nearly four hundred people had died, while a million more had run from their homes. The deluge caused more than half a billion dollars of damage at a time when the Great Depression still battered the nation.
Timed to coincide with the flood's seventy-fifth anniversary, The Thousand-Year Flood is the first comprehensive history of one of the most destructive disasters in American history. David Welky first shows how decades of settlement put Ohio valley farms and towns at risk and how politicians and planners repeatedly ignored the dangers. Then he tells the gripping story of the river's inexorable rise: residents fled to refugee camps and higher ground, towns imposed martial law, prisoners rioted, Red Cross nurses endured terrifying conditions, and FDR dispatched thousands of relief workers. In a landscape fraught with dangers—from unmoored gas tanks that became floating bombs to powerful currents of filthy floodwaters that swept away whole towns—people hastily raised sandbag barricades, piled into overloaded rowboats, and marveled at water that stretched as far as the eye could see. In the flood's aftermath, Welky explains, New Deal reformers, utopian dreamers, and hard-pressed locals restructured not only the flood-stricken valleys, but also the nation's relationship with its waterways, changes that continue to affect life along the rivers to this day.
A striking narrative of danger and adventure—and the mix of heroism and generosity, greed and pettiness that always accompany disaster—The Thousand-Year Flood breathes new life into a fascinating yet little-remembered American story.
One of the most important functions of government—risk management—is one of the least well understood. Moving beyond the most familiar public functions—spending, taxation, and regulation—When All Else Fails spotlights the government’s pivotal role as a risk manager. It reveals, as never before, the nature and extent of this governmental function, which touches almost every aspect of economic life.
In policies as diverse as limited liability, deposit insurance, Social Security, and federal disaster relief, American lawmakers have managed a wide array of private-sector risks, transforming both the government and countless private actors into insurers of last resort. Drawing on history and economic theory, David Moss investigates these risk-management policies, focusing in particular on the original logic of their enactment. The nation’s lawmakers, he finds, have long believed that pervasive imperfections in private markets for risk necessitate a substantial government role. It remains puzzling, though, why such a large number of the resulting policies have proven so popular in a country famous for its anti-statism. Moss suggests that the answer may lie in the nature of the policies themselves, since publicly mandated risk shifting often requires little in the way of invasive bureaucracy. Well suited to a society suspicious of government activism, public risk management has emerged as a critical form of government intervention in the United States.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall less than four weeks apart in 2005. Months later, much of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast remained in tatters. As the region faded from national headlines, its residents faced a dire future. Emmanuel David chronicles how one activist group confronted the crisis. Founded by a few elite white women in New Orleans, Women of the Storm quickly formed a broad coalition that sought to represent Louisiana's diverse population. From its early lobbying of Congress through its response to the 2010 BP oil spill, David shows how members' actions were shaped by gender, race, class, and geography. Drawing on in-depth interviews, ethnographic observation, and archival research, David tells a compelling story of collective action and personal transformation that expands our understanding of the aftermath of an historic American catastrophe.