Home > BLOG 5, Crisis Communication, Uncategorized > Blog 5: Community Resilience

Blog 5: Community Resilience

When disaster strikes, communities receive attention and support. Response to these events can provide much needed assistance, but what about when the spotlight leaves the victims? Communities still remain affected, and just because an event fades from the news cycle, does not mean it has not permanently affected a community.

When an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011, the national media swarmed in to cover the response. Long after these satellite trucks left, the community showed signs of resilience.

An argument is made that resilience doesn’t come without hiccups.

Lasting as long as several weeks…some distress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event.

The distress of an event leads a community to adapt — a central point in establishing resilience. A community, in order to move on from a disaster, must be able to absorb the shock, redirect the energy in a positive way, and then adapt. It must use the situation in a way that will allow the community to build on what has happened.

Communities that have strong social capital are most likely to adapt. In the case of Joplin, a town that had a closely knit community fabric was able to bond together, respond to the disaster, and quickly find enough help to clear the disaster zone. Joplin had social capital in the sense that the town had no seams tearing it apart before its fabric had to withstand the winds of a terrible tornado.

To access social capital, one of the primary resources of any community, local people must be engaged meaningfully in every step of the mitigation process.

Harnessing social capital bleeds into other areas of resilience in disaster response. With a strong social capital, communities can develop the support needed for everything else: economic resources, organizational networks, interventions, and action plans.

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