Article Index

Vicarious Trauma in Aid Workers Following the World Trade Center Attack In 2001

Authors
Ellen Brickman, Chris O Sullivan, Heike Thiel de Bocanegra
Issue
March 2004
Description
This study investigated the prevalence of secondary trauma in volunteers who were involved in the emergency response after the World Trade Center (WTC) attack. Secondary or vicarious trauma is defined as therapists’ emotional reactions to their clients’ traumatic material. A total of 163 caseworkers, non-clinicians involved in addressing victims’ concrete needs, participated in a semi-structured phone interview that assessed their background and volunteer experience and a mailed survey that assessed their psychological status. Outcome data were the PTSD checklist (PCL) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Responses identified two distinct categories of volunteers: volunteers from out of town tended to be older, more experienced in disaster relief work, and had less levels of exposure to the attack than volunteers from the New York area. Most volunteers found the experience rewarding and enriching. However, 7.4% of the sample met diagnostic criteria for PTSD and fifth had BDI scores indicating moderate to severe depression. Prior trauma, exposure to the event, self-reported unmet needs, and beginning or increasing substance use after 9/11 were significantly associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms and depression. Post-traumatic stress and depression symptoms were negatively correlated with age. Having had previous disaster experience and living with a partner appeared to have a protective effect on mental health status. In conclusion, relief agencies should pay particular attention to providing support for volunteers with prior traumatic experiences. Furthermore, they should ensure ongoing support after the end of the relief work

Victimization after a Natural Disaster: Social Disorganization or Community Cohesion?

Authors
Judith M. Siegel, Linda B. Bourque and Kimberley I. Shoaf
Issue
November 1999
Description
Contrasting notions of social disorganization and social cohesion have been offered to describe community interaction after a natural disaster. Data were collected from three independent community samples, beginning seven months after the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake and following in one year intervals for the two subsequent samples. Exposure to traumatic stress (Norris 1990)-including criminal victimization-in the 12 months prior to the interview was assesed in each sample. For all traumatic stress/victimization and for each of seven individual events, rates remain flat over time (3 data points), suggesting that neither social disorganization nor social cohesion occurred after the earthquake. Owing to the timing of the survey, respondents interviewed in the first sample only could report on pre-disaster events. For these respondents, post-earthquake rates of traumatic stress and victimization were compared with pre-earthquake rates. In contrast to the trend data, reduction in rates of robbery and, to a lesser extent, major life changes suggest that an altruistic community (social cohesion) may have arisen. A third set of analyses show that severity of exposure to the earthquakes does not make a contribution to traumatic stress or victimization beyond that explained by the demographic variables repeatedly found to predict vulnerability to victimization. last, rates of criminal victimization within Los Angeles County are compared to rates for households in the United States, using the National Crime Victimiation Survey (NCVS) for the latter. Victimization rates are elevated in Los Angeles County, but not necessarily above what might be expected if exactly equivalent definitions of crimes had been used in our study and the national data set, and if comparable breakdowns by demographic characteristics were available in the NCVS for metropolitan areas of one million and more. In sum, there is no indication that social disorganization follows a natural disaster, and there is minor support for the emergence of an altruistic community.

Victimization by Natural Hazards in the United States, 1970-1980: Survey Estimates

Authors
James D. Wright, Eleanor Weber-Burdin, Joseph Pereira, Peter H. Rossi
Issue
November 1983
Description
Estimates of average annual damages and personal injuries over the period 1970-1980 to households in the United States from each of five hazards--household fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes--are derived from national sample surveys. The annual incidence rate for the four natural hazards combined a 18.7 per 1,000 households, or approximately 1.5 million household annually experiencing one or more incidents of floods, hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. Average annual damages from the same hazards reported by the households amount to U.S. $6.1 billion (in 1980 dollars). Analyses of aid received in the forms of insurance payments, gifts, grants and loans show that floods present the most serious problems to households when experienced, not only causing more damage but also more likely not to be covered by insurance and more likely to lead the household into enlarging its debt burden. No substantively significant biases were found in the distribution aid to households afflicted by natural hazards.

Vietnamese Refugees’ Perspectives on their Community’s Resilience in the Event of a Natural Disaster

Authors
Huaibo Xin, Robert E. Aronson, Kay A. Lovelace, Robert W. Strack, and Jose A. Villalba
Issue
November 2014
Description
Researchers have urged that community resilience be integrated in preparing for public emergencies to improve individuals’ resilience. This study explored Vietnamese refugees’ shared perspectives on their community resilience in the face of a natural disaster and factors that either facilitated or impeded their community resilience. Using ethnographic approach, 20 ethnic Vietnamese and Montagnard adult refugees living in North Carolina were interviewed, using a semi-structured interview guide. Three themes emerged from the data: (1) Greensboro is a good place to live, with many resources to draw on during a natural disaster; (2) The City can be trusted to respond effectively during a natural disaster especially because of the city government; and (3) The refugee community will face significant challenges. Future efforts should be directed to developing effective channels for refugees to access information, make connections with existing community resources, and facilitate collaboration among multiethnic groups when encountering a natural disaster.

Volcanic Eruptions and Functional Change: Parallels in Japan and the United States

Authors
Hirotada Hirose, Ronald W. Perry
Issue
August 1983
Description
The purpose of this paper is to examine one aspect of community change following disaster: the impact of volcanic eruptions on two small communities with tourist-based economies. The data presented here are in the form of two case studies of towns affected by, respectively, the eruptions of Mt. Usu on the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan and of Mount St. Helens in Washington, located in the northwestern United States. Specifically, the paper describes the effects of the eruptions and subsequent emergency management policies upon the tourist economies of Toyako-Onsen, Japan, and Cougar, Washington. The study highlights differences and commonalities in response between the two communities, including reactions to the imposition of access controls, functional shifts in the local economies after controls had been lifted, and the impact of the public\\'s perception of the hazard upon tourism.

Voluntary Labor, Utah, The L.D.S. Church, and the Floods of 1983: A Case Study

Authors
Albert L. Fisher
Issue
November 1985
Description
National attention was focused on Utah in the Spring of 1983 when an abnormally deep snow pack in the mountains combined with abrupt, very warm weather to cause sudden, severe flooding along the state\\'s densely populated Wasatch Front. Public officials were not prepared for what happened and they could not control the crisis generated problems with their own resources. A large, efficient, volunteer labor force was needed immediately to prevent serious flooding from becoming a disaster. The extensive media attention given to Utah during this period looked mostly at the way public officials and the people responded to the crisis.\r\n\r\nThis is a report of voluntary labor and the floods of 1983 in Utah. The only public, semi public, or private organization that could provide the number of volunteer workers that were necessary during the crisis period and supervise the workers adequately was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S.).\r\n\r\nThe traditions, attitudes, and organization of the L.D.S. Church as they are important to the immediate delivery of large numbers of volunteer workers, equipment, and supervisors in an emergency period are investigated in this paper. The relationships between government in Utah and the Church are also examined to explain why the Church is relied on to supply the voluntary labor force for any mass emergency in Utah and how this is accomplished. The question is also addressed of whether or not the Utah experience would be either appropriate or transferable to any other area. There might be something to be learned from Utah that could aid disaster work elsewhere. \r\n

Vulnerability as a Measure of Change in Society

Authors
Greg Bankoff
Issue
August 2003
Description
Assessing risk and evaluating crises—be they financial, social, political or environmental—have come increasingly to preoccupy the interests and concerns of analysts around the globe. In developed countries or what until recently was usually referred to as the First World, such considerations involve the re-conceptualization of post-industrial societies as ones in which the rise of “manufactured uncertainties” have undermined the state’s established safety systems and its conventional calculus of security (Giddens 1991). Yet to the billions of humanity who continue to live in the less developed countries of the Third or Fourth Worlds and whose peoples still have faith in the benefits of development or have seen that promise come and go in a single lifetime, these finer considerations of risk may seem less important. The threats posed by dumping industrial wastes, unsafe chemical production and the pollution of air and water, though real and graphically manifest on occasion, often pale in comparison to the daily risks posed by natural hazards and human-induced calamities that recent decades have only intensified. Rather than the “risk society” proposed by Ulrich Beck and others (1992), it is the need to understand the historical evolution of vulnerability and the degree to which different social classes are differently placed at risk that require more urgent consideration for most communities (Susman et al. 1983).

Vulnerability of Displaced Persons: Relocation Park Residents in the Wake of Hurricane Charley

Authors
Heather M Bell, Linda M Whiteford, Burrell E Montz, Graham A Tobin
Issue
March 2006
Description
Hurricane Charley made landfall in southwest Florida, USA on August 13, 2004. It caused devastation in several coastal counties before moving rapidly north-northeastwards through the state. While storm surge and flooding were minimal, the destruction from high winds was extensive. Hurricane Charley was the most intense storm to make landfall in Florida since Andrew in 1992; three more hurricanes followed in 2004, creating problems throughout the state and leaving many people homeless. This study looked at the vulnerability of these displaced persons, exploring issues of pre and post-event behavior, response and recovery in a relocation park run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Questionnaire surveys and indepth interviews were used to assess perception of immediate and ongoing needs of park residents and to evaluate how well those needs had been met. Though residents reported that emergency response organizations had met most of their immediate needs and they were generally appreciative of FEMA’s efforts, there were some ongoing concerns. Results indicated that relocation park residents were more vulnerable than the general population prior to the storm, and that differences among park residents were associated with variations in perception of needs and outcomes. Specifically, four themes stood out and require further study: special needs, race, access to resources and social networks. With subsequent events, not least being Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, more attention to long-term sheltering needs and temporary housing would seem appropriate.

Vulnerability Reduction and Political Responsiveness: Explaining Executive Decisions in U.S. Disaster Policy during the Ford and Carter Administrations

Authors
R. Steven Daniels and Carolyn L. Clark-Daniels
Issue
August 2002
Description
Decision-making by elected executives on disaster policy reflects comprehensive vulnerability management, political responsiveness to the media, political negotiation, and intergovernmental conflict. If vulnerability reduction is a significant influence, executive decisions should reflect political and social vulnerability and self-sufficiency. If political responsiveness influences disaster decisions, executive decisions should also reflect media coverage, proximity to elections, and decisions at other levels of government. The data set included 293 major disaster requests between 1974 and 1981. The analysis used multiple regression and logistic regression. Vulnerability reduction had an impact on aid decisions. Political responsiveness affected most decisions on disaster relief. The Ford administration was more sensitive to both responsiveness and vulnerability than the Carter administration. Overall, nationalization of disaster assistance has made the achievement of vulnerability management more difficult. The absence of minimum criteria has increased the discretion of executive choice.

Waiting for Disaster: Changing Reactions to Earthquake Forecasts in Southern California

Authors
Ralph H. Turner
Issue
August 1983
Description
Several earthquakes near predictions in 1976 initiated a period of waiting in Los Angeles County for a great and destructive earthquake. Hypothesized negative effects of an extended period of waiting under an open-ended threat of disaster include (1) declining sense of urgency and vigilance, (2) disillusionment and disbelief, (3) accumulating anxiety and defensive denial of danger, and (4) resentment and scapegoating. Hypothesized positive effects include (5) familiarization, appreciated, and sensitization, and (6) symbolic and active rehearsal of responses. Interviews with five waves of adult County residents over a period of nearly two years, followed by a sixth wave immediately after a moderate but nondestructive earthquake, provided measures of change and stability of response to earthquake threat. Measures of fear, imminent expectation for a damaging earthquake, household preparedness, confidence in scientific earthquake prediction capability, suspicion that information was being withheld, attitude toward releasing uncertain predictions, focus on scientific as compared with unscientific forecasts, and preferred media source of information on forecasts tend to disconfirm the disillusionment, denial, and scapegoating hypotheses, to support reduced urgency and familiarization hypotheses, and to provide weak support for the rehearsal hypothesis.