Article Index

Terrorism and System Failure: A Revisited Perspective of Current Development Paradigms

Authors
Arthur Oyola Yemaiel, Jennifer Wilson
Issue
November 2003
Description
In this article we explore social vulnerability to terrorism based upon current development paradigms and the social complexities derived from our evolutionary process. We argue that highly complex systems are the essence of accelerated development as well as the possible cause of our collapse as society. System complexity in and of itself could very well be modern society’s principal vulnerability to terrorism with the possible outcome of a generalized failure resulting in a national disaster. To obtain vulnerability reduction we suggest that American society move toward a new stage of development accentuating redundancy that business and resource consolidation and the centralization of power paradigm give way to developmental strategies of decentralized power and dispersed resource allocation. We utilized the Twin Towers incident to analyze our evolutionary developmental process and the vulnerability of our complex society and to revisit the working definition of disaster in the reality of highly complex systems.

The 1989 Student Protest in Beijing

Authors
Antony J. Taylor
Issue
November 1994
Description
An eyewitness account of events leading up to the massacre in Tienanmen Square will be described, in which the place of observational methods for gathering data, the difficulty in retaining emotional objectivity, and the role of the University vis a vis the state will be raised. The suggestion is made that such brief, dramatic and intensive experiences could be construed as disasters and brought within the framework of applied behavioral science.

The 1998 Floods in the Tambo Valley

Authors
Rebecca Monson
Issue
November 2004
Description
This paper examines the flood event of June 1998 and its effect on residents of the upper Tambo Valley, in Victoria south east Australia. While the concept of vulnerability has been widely employed to understand disasters, this case study is unique in that it adopts a long-term historical perspective of vulnerability. It shows that rather than being the result of a chance occurrence of a natural event, the 1998 flood disaster was in fact foreseeable, and the culmination of various social, political, economic and environmental pressures, some of which had existed for well over a century.

The Changing Roles and Responsibilities of the Local Emergency Manager: An Empirical Study

Authors
Steven D. Stehr
Issue
March 2007
Description
A number of observers have speculated that a “new” style of emergency management has emerged in the United States in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. To date, there has been relatively little empirical evidence marshaled to assess this claim. This article reports the results of an on-going project designed to track how the staff of an office of emergency management in a large urban region allocate their time on a routine basis. This project began in the late 1990s allowing for a year-by-year comparison of time allotted to different emergency management functions. Among the findings reported here are that prior to 2002 emergency management staff spent the majority of their time on hazard preparedness projects but this time allocation shifted dramatically when a variety of federal homeland security grants became available to state and local governments. This shift in responsibilities may be a sign that domestic security concerns have supplanted the all-hazards approach to emergency management at the local level. But this paper argues that it may also be a product of the manner in which federal homeland security grants are administered and the dynamics of the intergovernmental structure of emergency management in the U.S.

The Chimera of Precision: Inherent Uncertainties in Disaster Loss Assessment

Authors
John Handmer
Issue
November 2002
Description
Loss assessments are undertaken to support decisions about disaster mitigation. There is considerable pressure to use economic principles and to make such assessments a condition of funding for all mitigation. A fundamental underlying assumption is that loss assessments are accurate and comparable-and that this accuracy makes comparisons more valid. Unfortunately, it appears that this is not the case. A key question concerns whether loss assessments can be made accurate and comparable through improved knowledge and training-as implied by many critics of the approach-or whether the problems are inherent in the idea of loss assessment. Drawing primarily on Australian flood loss assessment work, these issues are examined. Results suggest that the uncertainties may be larger than generally acknowledged, that at least some are irreducible, and that comparisons may not be assisted by improved accuracy. The implication is that loss assessment methods should aim to make comparisons valid and reliable rather than chase unachievable precision.

The Common Disaster and the Unexpected Education: Delta Flight 1141 and the Discourse of Aviation Safety

Authors
Ana C. Garner
Issue
August 1996
Description
News coverage of transportation disasters, such as the crash of Delta Flight 1141, reveal the disaster behavior of passengers, flight personnel and rescue workers. Within a mystery framework, the Flight 1141 discourse provides clues that readers can use to construct their own disaster behavior awareness. The media must expand their pedagogical role beyond natural and technological disasters and begin providing basic airplane safety behavior information.

The Community Recovery Process in the United States After a Major Natural Disaster

Authors
Claire B. Rubin
Issue
August 1985
Description
After studying first-hand how 14 U.S. communities recovered from a major natural disaster, an organizing framework recovery process was developed. That framework depicts the dynamic processes that contribute to an efficient local recovery, including the key elements of recovery and the relationships among those factors. The three key elements are personal leadership, ability to act, and knowledge of what to do.

The County Emergency Manager’s Role in Recovery

Authors
Jessica Jensen, Sarah Bundy, Brian Thomas and Mariama Yakubu
Issue
March 2014
Description
For decades emergency management has presented itself as an emerging profession devoted to coordinating activities related to mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. However, there has been little research to assess the extent to which it is, in fact, engaged in the coordination of activities in all of these areas. This study addresses this research gap by reporting the results of interviews with 54 county level emergency managers from eleven states regarding their role in disaster recovery. The results suggest that recovery is subordinate to other functional areas (e.g., preparedness, response, mitigation) within the work lives of the county emergency managers who participated in this research.

The Critic's Corner

Authors
Stephen R. Couch, J. Stephen Kroll-Smith, George O. Rogers
Issue
November 1992
Description
on The Real Disaster is Above Ground

The Critic's Corner

Authors
Russell R. Dynes
Issue
August 1983
Description
The critic\\'s corner is for brief, unrefereed statements about one or more aspects of disasters, and which have research implications. While some statements are solicited, we would prefer to have them volunteered. Preference will be given to provocative points of view and those which seem to challenge established ways of viewing, thinking and researching disaster phenomena. The point of view express is that of the author(s) and does not necessarily represent that of the editors, the journal or the research committee.