Family Disaster Preparedness

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Family Disaster Preparedness

Table of Contents



Natural Disasters3


Families in Disaster: A Review8

Warnings and Evacuations8

Restoration and Recovery9

Disaster Research and the Sociology of the Family13

Theoretical Framework16

Motivational factors18

Informational factors20

Attributions of responsibility24

The Rapid Flood26



Indicators of Family Recovery29

Family Recovery: A Casual Model34



Family Disaster Preparedness



When families are stricken by natural disaster, complex processes occur that affect all aspects of family behavior from the receipt of warnings to recovery in the aftermath. The extent of sociological knowledge about family behavior in stress situations is varied, with the greatest paucity in findings occurring in the area of long-term recovery (e.g. Mileti et al., 2005). The current research reported here examines systematically the relationships between factors' that affect how families readjust over the long term after a stress event.

Much of the literature on natural disasters focuses on the activities of various social units during the immediate pre- and postimpact periods. While a small part of this literature, insofar as it pertains to families, will be reviewed, more attention will be given to a recent study conducted by Drabek and others (2003, 2005, 2006) in Topeka, Kansas. Their research is one of the first rigorous studies to focus on the long-term impact of disasters on primary groups, and such is salient here.

Data for this analysis were gathered in Rapid City, South Dakota following a catastrophic flash flood. Analytically, two statistical techniques are used to develop a family recovery model from these data. Relationships between variables in the model are evaluated in light of other findings in the literature.

The descriptive model presented here is a step, limited both in scope and generalizability, toward developing a general, comprehensive theory of familial recovery from natural disaster. No overarching theoretical framework presently exists in disaster research (Mileti et al., 2005) for the integrating of findings. Consequently, the current analysis stands as an example of a "middle range" (Merton, 2008), theoretical model, inductively developed and grounded in general social systemic notions of the relationships of families to other localityrelevant social structures (Warren, 2003).

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are a significant cause of dislocation and disruption in the lives of people and communities. In the US alone 65 major natural disaster declarations were made in 1998, while in 1999, 2000 and 2001, 50, 45 and 45 major natural disaster declarations were made respectively in the US (FEMA, 2003a). The financial costs are significant. For example, in 1998 $4.2 billion was spent on natural disasters in the US and $1.4 billion was spent in 1999 (FEMA, 2003b). Some form of social assessment is often conducted in the wake of natural disasters. Social assessment practitioners, however, are concerned with more than financial costs. Social assessment is concerned with the broader impacts of such events on the lives of individuals, families and communities.

One of the complications that assessment practitioners and government agency managers face that is not an issue in assessments conducted by those in non-social disciplines is ...
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