Rural Resilience

Hurricane Harvey affected a geographic area of Texas roughly the size of Kentucky. While much attention was paid to severe flooding in Houston – the 4th most populous city in the nation – many smaller towns were impacted by the storm. Having grown up in a small town, I knew that while fiscal resources may be constrained in small, rural communities, there were attributes could make them more resilient. With a research team of students and a professor colleague, we conducted interviews in small communities in different regions of Texas. We were invited into people’s damaged homes, interviewed people at football games, and met with ranchers. Interviewees pointed to the community spirit unique to small towns and a sense of self-reliance tied to the agricultural community as motivating the collective action linked to gains in social capital. This finding may imply that social capital compensates for a lack of other capital types; but this question is for future research to answer.

Ross, Ashley, and Lauren A. Clay. “Capital Assets and Rural Resilience: An Analysis of Texas Communities Impacted by Hurricane Harvey.” Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 8.1-2 (2018): 154-186.

Smiley, Kevin T., Lauren A. Clay, Ashley D. Ross, and Yu‐An Chen. “Multi‐scalar and Multi‐dimensional Conceptions of Social Capital and Mental Health Impacts After Disaster: The case of Hurricane Harvey.” Disasters.