Posts Tagged ‘Disaster’

Blog 1: Hurricane Katrina, and Specifically Hurricanes, Top Disaster Relief Expenses

August 30, 2015 1 comment
  1. The United States has spent nearly one trillion dollars on disaster relief funds. The article breaks down the expenses to compare costs of each weather disaster that has affected the country.
  2. The data for these expenses was collected by the National Centers for Environmental Information from 1980 to 2014.
  3. In 2014, wildfires ravaged in California and I’m curious ton its comparison to the 1991 Oakland firestorm.


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Blog 5: Community Resilience

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Though originally used in physics to describe the capacity of material to return to equilibrium after displacement, resilience is also associated with a community’s ability to quickly return to homeostasis, or to “bounce back” from a collective traumatic experience (disaster) through specific communication strategies, it is called community resilience.

It is essential to understand two things before exploring the communication strategies used to increase community resilience.

1. Know how to interpret community resilience because the meaning of “community” has vast variations. Communities have four interdependent environments (built, natural, social, and economic) and it is through their interdependence they influence one another in complex ways. Norris explains that there are two (somewhat integrated) for community resilience; first, it prevents disaster-related or mental health problems of community members; second, it describes effective organizational behavior and disaster management.

2. Understand resilience as a theory. Resilience is the capacity for successful adaptation in the face of disturbance, stress, or adversity. Resilience is not an outcome or stability, but a process and focused on adaptability.

In his article Norris explains resilience as a strategy by giving five different strategies that relate to the interdependent environments of a community.  I found the most important strategies to increase resilience to be the following:

1. Communities must develop economic resources, reduce risk and resource inequities, and survey areas of greatest social vulnerability. During this needs must be identified and an appropriate approach must be decided upon. The key idea of this strategy is on of equity across areas of a community, it is economic diversity, which increases a community’s ability to withstand unexpected crises.

2. Social capital must be accessible because it is one of the primary resources of any community as it is vital for local members of a community to be engaged in every step of the mitigation process. The focus of this strategy is to build trust. This trust is achieved via interactions that provide individuals with actual assistance in the form of a narrative. This narrative occurs when professionals send out accurate and important information to individuals. This information must be accurate and honest about the dangers/risks and the actions the public must take. As Longstaff said,

“A trusted source of information is the most important resilience asset that any individual or group can have.”

The public is then to assess and address their own individual vulnerabilities to hazards by identifying and investing in their own networks. These professional interventions are meant to emphasize empowerment and procure mobilization for the community’s capabilities. There are parts to social capital:

  • Sense of community: bonding and trust built through shared understandings and connections
  • Placement attachment: an emotional connection to the location
  • Citizen participation: the fundamental element of community resilience where individuals participate in formal organizations because there is structure, organization, and well defined roles

3.  Communities must plan, but also plan for not having a plan. Though it sounds confusing this strategy is simply focused on understanding the inevitable uncertainty that comes along during the aftermath of any disaster. Communities must be flexible and focus on being effective by having trusted information and communication resources that function even when faced with uncertainty. In order to be effective the complexity and uncertainty of the disaster must be acknowledged and there must be rapid decision-making instead of rigid plans.

Further understanding of community resilience as applied to a public health emergency can be seen here in this video: 

Blog 5: Community Resilience and Communication

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment
Most of the time when a disaster occurs it takes a community by surprise and even if they knew it was coming  it still affects them in serious ways. One way to combat disaster effects is by resistance, which is when the community has enough resources before the disaster to block the disastrous effects of a crisis.  Unfortunately, this type of response to a crisis usually only happens to an event that happen quite frequently. What usually happens after a crisis is that a community needs to create resilience.  According to Norris et al. (2007) community resilience is defined as,
A process linking a network of adaptive capacities (resources with dynamic attributes) to adaptation after a disturbance or adversity.
This basically means that the community has the ability to obtain and use their economic, communicative and social resources to bounce back from a disaster as quickly as possible. One important aspect to increase community resilience is the use of communication strategies.
The first important communication aspect needed for community resilience is as Norris et al. (2011) states  a “trusted source of information” During a disaster there is so much information going around that it is hard sometimes to find out which one is the right one or is just an exaggeration. It is important to have a trusted source that can communicate the expected risks and appropriate recommendations in order to bounce back from the disaster as soon as possible.
Also very important  to community resilience is that the community before a crisis, should set up a hotline or some sort of information line that community members can call in so that they can get correct information straight from the source instead of relying on speculation.
Another overlooked component for community resilience that involves communication is the community narrative. This is when the  members of the community discuss their own personal experiences during a disaster. Norris et al (2011). use September 11th as an example of this technique on how members in that large community were able to heal and come together through hearing each other stories from that horrific day.
How well the members work together is also important when trying to maximize community resiliency, this technique is called community competence. According to Norris et al. members need to:
  1. Be able to collaborate effectively in in identifying the problems and needs of the community
  2. Be able to achieve a working consensus on goals and priorities
  3. Be able to agree on ways and means to implement the agreed upon goals
  4. Be able to collaborate effectively in the required actions
All these steps requires effective communication in order to work well within a group. If members can communicate to each other, identify what the problem is and figure out a cohesive goal, it enables them to be have better community resiliency. However, if  there are many different subgroups trying to make decisions and no one can agree because there isn’t enough communication it may draw out the length of recovery due to confusion and anger.
Finally, Norris et al. touches on things that communication does that enhances community resilience that we read and discussed about ICS in class. Both say that in order to get through a crisis the communities must assess what the community members need and involve them in the solving of the crisis, communicate and gather resources needed especially for the most damaged areas, enact professional relationships and networks with organizations prior to the disaster so that they can help you when a crisis occurs, establish a place where members can communicate with each other an example being social networks like twitter, and finally establish a crisis plan that is flexible and can adjust to change.
All in all, communication is an extremely important feature in a communities recovery from a disaster. It may be very difficult to have community resistance after an unexpected disaster but with these proper communication strategies, they can definitely increase their community resilience after a disaster.

Disaster and Social Media Blog Posts to Check Out

Blog 4: Facebook & Twitter: The Phenomenon

October 31, 2011 1 comment

Facebook and Twitter are something that many of us use daily. I for one know that I use these forms of social networking many times a day and a day without it would feel like a day where I felt like I was cut off from the world. I think that both networks of social media are a good source to be used during a disaster response. I only say this because of two inventions app and cell phone. Without these networks making it so no matter where you are or what phone you have you can receive tweets and updates makes it a very valuable source in a crisis. Twitter is something I like to call public texting. It’s 140 characters long, which is probably about the average length of a text message. I think that it’s a good source during a crisis because you can be alerted of what’s going on continuously during a crisis and what you should do. Some people have jobs that focus soley on tweeting out information. For NBC i know in the news room they have a social media desk where all the people at the stations job is to constantly update information onto the networking sites. With news information being broadcasted continuously it could help in a crisis situation. As for facebook I think it’s more of an after effect help, if you want to donate money like this, if you want weekly updates about this subject add it is a friend. I think facebook is not made for minute by minute updates like twitter, which is why I put it for more after the crisis, but it still could certainly work during as well. Speaking personally, I find out most of my information first via twitter, whether it be a national crisis, politics, pop culture etc. It all depends on who you follow and what is trending. For example my time line has been buzzing about Kim Kardashian and her divorce after 72 days. If you follow a Kardashian or may deem it important or not you can still see that is a topic people are talking about by seeing what is trending. I also found out that Steve Jobs died via twitter. I think it’s a reliable source that could be used, if used efficiently, during a crisis.


October 31, 2011 2 comments


I think social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are some of the most relevant places for people (especially college-aged) to find out information. For example, I found out Kim Kardashian was getting a divorce because I got on Twitter.  While this may not be a “disaster” it still proves that these media sources are very crucial when it comes to finding out information.


When you watch the news, it is on at a given time everyday. Whereas Facebook and Twitter are always accessible. I can go online anytime, almost anywhere are find out news.  Friends of friends can repost and retweet and I can see the information.  If I miss something on the news, I have to wait until the next showing to get my information.

I think people are attracted to social media because they pick when and how they receive their news.  Most people like things short and sweet, Twitter especially appeals to this type of audience. If a disaster has occurred, most people will look to Twitter or Facebook for their information. Disaster centers can put their information up on these social media websites, and trust that people will pass the message along.

Blog 4: Utilizing Facebook & Twitter During Disaster Response

October 31, 2011 1 comment

When evaluating the effectiveness of Twitter and Facebook in disaster response it is important to assess how the two social networking sites fit into our discussion of the duty to inform because the sites are a heterogeneous channel being used to reach heterogeneous targets. During this period of informing the information must be easily understood and accessible, and these sites meet these requirements.

Both Facebook and Twitter are widespread social networking sites, making it easy for information to spread quickly through their users. In March 2011 Twitter reportedly had 175 million users. Facebook currently has more than 800 million users, 50% of which log in on any given day. Facebook also offers more than 70 languages and has mobile device capabilities. With all of these users not only does information spread quickly, but with diversity such as Facebook information also spreads to multiple groups of people (targets).

In addition to acting as a method of quickly spreading news to multiple targets, social networking sites can also act as alternative means of communication. If there were a disaster in which phone and/or TV communication were not accessible, these sites could be the medium in which people stayed informed on how to prepare, what actions should be taken, and the updates of the disaster.

Below is a link to an example of how Twitter can act in regards to a disaster. MyJourneyNews tweeted: “Thailand flooding update October 31, 2011: Yingluck says flooding…” The link then takes you to where the flooding in Thailand is reported on. The information seen in the link in this tweet provides an overview of what to expect in the coming days of the flooding, images of the flooding, a map in which allows people to get an idea of flooding in specific areas, and related news articles.