Involving community members in preparedness and resiliency involves bi-directional and iterative communication and actions: a case study of vulnerable populations in New Jersey following superstorm Sandy

Joanna Burger, Michael Gochfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent increases in hurricanes and other weather events have brought to light the importance of understanding what people think should be done to improve recovery and resiliency in their communities. While most studies focus only on perceptions of concerns, effects, medical issues and personal preparedness, herein subjects in New Jersey were interviewed to determine future actions they intend to follow, the actions they think agencies or others should be taking, and present a conceptual model for involvement of vulnerable community members in their own protection for future catastrophic events. The emphasis was on government and community actions. It is a bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach to reduction of future risk. The case study involved subjects interviewed immediately following Sandy (general affected public; N = 756) and 2–3 years after Sandy (vulnerable population, N = 586). Concerns of subjects within 100 days related to friends family, safety and survival, food and water and medical concerns as well as recovery, repairs on their property, and community safety. Two to three years later, subjects remembered being significantly more concerned about family, friends, safety and survival, food and water and medical concerns than subjects interviewed within 100 days. Memories (or concern) also faded with respect to future preparedness; significantly more subjects interviewed 2–3 years after Sandy were going to do nothing, were less concerned about protecting family, community, and possessions than subjects interviewed within 100 days of Sandy. In contrast, the same percentage were going to evacuate and buy supplies, so it is not just a matter of forgetting the whole event. The data from open-ended questions indicated that subjects believed that recovery and preparation for a future severe storm event involved complicated and iterative activities of many different individuals, organizations, and governmental agencies. Thus we present an iterative, interactive model, and provide examples of how subjects viewed the interactions necessary to provide resiliency to their communities. We discuss the value-added of a bottoms-up approach to understanding risk reduction, preparedness and resiliency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-556
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Strategy and Management

Keywords

  • Conceptual model
  • Superstorm Sandy
  • community involvement
  • hurricanes
  • perceptions
  • preparedness
  • risks
  • stakeholders

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