• Community-based Organization and Long-term Recovery from Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Gulf Coast

    This study sought to understand the role that community-based organizations (CBOs) play in long-term recovery by examining the ways in which CBOs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (MSGC) transitioned into long-term recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Using thematic coding of 36 in-depth interviews conducted in both 2007/8 and 2013/14 with 21 CBO leaders from 15 different CBOs, this study found that CBOs must navigate a complex and often challenging political and economic context complicated by national policies and attitudes and local historical patterns. Despite these challenges, CBOs participated in LTR by acting as funding conduits, intermediary community-government actors, cross-sector collaborators, advocates, grassroots organizers, researchers, and government watchdogs. The most successful CBOs were those that developed CBO and cross-sector collaborations, diversified their funding, and added an advocacy component to their mission. The study concludes with a discussion of its implications for long-term disaster recovery research and policy.

  • Flood Impacts on Farmers and Farm Communities, Rural South Carolina

    This exploratory study seeks to understand the impact of the 2015 North American Storm Complex on family farms and their surrounding communities in rural South Carolina. The storm system caused historic flooding in S.C. that destroyed homes, businesses, and hospitals and left 19 people dead (Lacour, 2015). Additionally, it devastated rural farming communities, resulting in unprecedented loss of crop yields and an estimated $300 million dollars in loss for 2015 (Smith, 2015). The most severely affected area includes five counties in the “Corridor of Shame” – an area of the state that is notoriously lacking in education, industry, and social services. Therefore these counties, which hold one third of flood-affected farms, rely heavily on agriculture and contain entire towns and communities that are organized around and sustained by family farms. Unlike other groups of state residents, who were eligible for FEMA aid, farmers received no disaster assistance, leaving many facing bankruptcy. The end of family farms could have tremendous negative impact on these rural communities that revolve around agroindustry. Therefore, understanding flood impacts is necessary for ensuring successful community development and sustainability in these areas. Using a grounded theory approach, I conducted semi-structured interviews with farm operators and key S.C. agriculture leaders in order to understand this phenomenon in an effort to better understand how disaster impacts farming communities, which will have theoretical and practical implications for disaster research and policy.