Local Disaster Resilience: Administrative and Political Perspectives (2014)

How is disaster resilience perceived by local government officials and translated into their response and recovery efforts? Local Disaster Resilience: Administrative and Political Perspectives systematically explores this question through secondary data sources as well as original surveys of county emergency managers and elected municipal officials. A measure of capacity for disaster resilience is presented and analyzed for 75 Gulf Coast counties. Additionally, perceptions and experiences of local officials across 56 counties and 122 municipalities in the Gulf Coast region are assessed. These findings of these analyses shed light on how resilience is understood by local officials and on the attributes and circumstances that facilitate the development of resilience on the local level.

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Measuring Disaster Resilience

Broadly, disaster resilience can be defined as a set of adaptive capacities that imbue a community with the strengths needed to respond, cope, and recover from a disaster event as well as a process of collective action enabled by these capacities to adapt to the post-disaster environment. Measuring resilience in a meaningful way requires that we assess a community’s adaptive capacity or its collective strengths and abilities to prevent, withstand, and manage a disaster event. Adaptive capacities largely entail tangible products and observable characteristics of a community. As outlined in the book, these can be broken into the following components:

  • Social capacity for resilience is the aggregation of a community’s characteristics including age, education levels, wealth, and language capacity that translate to able, mobile, and resource-enabled individuals in the event of a disaster.
  • Community capital refers to the connectedness of community members that enable cooperation and collaboration in disaster planning, response, and recovery.
  • Economic capacity for resilience refers to the robustness and diversity of a community’s economy.
  • Institutional capacity for resilience concerns the plans and preparations a community has made for disasters.
  • Infrastructure capacity for resilience refers to a community’s basic public service capacity in terms of shelter, roads, and medical facilities that may be needed in the event of a disaster.
  • Ecological capacity for resilience speaks to how community development has affected natural coastal barriers such as wetlands.

An index of adaptive capacity for resilience was created that replicates Susan Cutter’s BRIC model for 75 counties across the Gulf Coast using secondary source data. The disaster resilience scores across the sample can be viewed here: Gulf Coast Adaptive Capacities for Resilience Scores.

Adaptive Capacity Scores and Maps

To download datasets reporting the adaptive capacity for disaster resilience scores, click on the following links:

Disaster Resilience Scores

Resilience Scores across Component Indices

Resilience Scores across Disaster Phases

Maps depicting the adaptive capacity for disaster resilience scores as well as the component indices can be viewed here:

Adaptive Capacity for Disaster Resilience Map

Social Resilience Map

Community Capital Map

Economic Resilience Map

Institutional Resilience Map

Infrastructure Resilience Map

Ecological Resilience Map

Adaptive Capacity Data

The data and codebook for the raw indicators used to construct the adaptive capacity index can be downloaded here:

Gulf Coast Adaptive Capacity Dataset

Gulf Coast Adaptive Capacity Data Codebook

A description of the construction of the index and analysis of the index data is detailed in Chapter 5 of the the book.

Book Tables

Click on title to open pdf file of the table.

4.1 Federal Government Usage of Resilience

4.2 Meanings of Community Resilience among Gulf Coast Emergency Managers

4.3 Factors that Explain Differences in Perceptions of Community Resilience

5.1 Comparison of DROP and CDRI Indices of Resilience

5.2 Adaptive Capacity for Disaster Resilience Indicators by Component

5.3 Variation in State Context

5.4 Factors Associated with Adaptive Capacity for Disaster Resilience Scores

6.1 Coordination Activities by Emergency Managers and Local Elected Officials

6.2 Factors Related to County Emergency Manager Ratings of Coordination

6.3 Factors Related to Municipal Elected Official Ratings of Coordination

7.1 Patterns across Resilience Groups

7.2 Factors Related to Overestimations of Resilience

8.1 Key Findings for Understanding Local Disaster Resilience

Book Figures

Click on title to open pdf file of the figure.

2.1 Conceptual Model of Local Disaster Resilience

3.1 Gulf Coast Focusing Events & Disaster Expenditures, 1953–1978

3.2 Gulf Coast States’ Share of FEMA Public Assistance Grants, 1998-2012

3.3 Research Sample

3.4 Variation in Economic and Social Factors across Survey Sample

4.1 Meanings of Community Resilience

5.1 Map of Disaster Resilience Index Measuring County Adaptive Capacities

5.2 Map of Adaptive Capacity for Disaster Resilience Component Indices

5.3 Map of Adaptive Capacity for Disaster Resilience Disaster Phase Indices

6.1 Average Frequency of Activities by County Emergency Managers

6.2 Municipal Elected Officials’ Rate of Involvement in Disaster Management Activities

7.1 Plotting Resilience across the Gulf Coast: County Adaptive Capacities Coupled with Ratings of the Adaptive Process

7.2 Perceptions of County Resilience

7.3 Map of the Alignment of Resilience Perceptions and Realities

Book Corrections

Unfortunately a few mistakes have been found in the book. Click here a list of corrections: Corrections and Clarification List.