Natural Hazards

, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 343–363 | Cite as

Quantifying household social resilience: a place-based approach in a rapidly transforming community

  • Sarah Henly-ShepardEmail author
  • Cheryl Anderson
  • Kimberly Burnett
  • Linda J. Cox
  • John N. Kittinger
  • Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana
Original Paper


In an era of ecological degradation, global climate change, demographic shifts and increasing intensity and frequency of natural hazards, the Pacific Islands including the State of Hawai‘i face heightened risk. Human and environmental well-being are tightly coupled; thus, science-based solutions must marry place-based, culturally relevant processes that link disaster preparedness, relief and recovery with resilience theories and applications. However, these fields remain mired in epistemological silos, and the operationalization of these theories has been slow, particularly at the community level. This paper explores the challenges of bridging these intersecting fields and the application of theory to practice, through a community-based case study in Hanalei, Hawai‘i. We deployed household surveys, key informant interviews and traditional talk-story sessions to gather baseline information on demographic and socio-ecological transformations, perceptions of risk and preparedness, and coping and adaptive capacity measures. Results showed that residents exhibit medium-to-high coping and adaptive capacities, while visitors present high vulnerability and dependence upon locals. Social resilience metrics highlight differential coping and adaptive capacities among households with varying characteristics (e.g., sex of head of household, longevity of residence and household size) offering risk reduction targets. A gap analysis developed from a qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions highlights key sectors, areas and populations with perceived gaps in preparedness and resilience, coupled with ideas for solutions centered around local capacity building and improved knowledge and awareness. Community-based assessments underpin the development of long-term disaster resilience planning initiatives and to addressing gaps in vulnerable sectors and populations.


Adaptive capacity Climate change Community Coping Resilience Transformation 



The authors would like to thank the community members and stakeholders of Hanalei, Kaua‘i for their time, commitment and insight throughout this research and planning project. This effort was supported by a National Integrated Drought Information Systems grant, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and was coordinated through the Hazards, Climate & Environment Program of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 193 kb)
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Supplementary material 5 (PDF 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Henly-Shepard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cheryl Anderson
    • 2
  • Kimberly Burnett
    • 3
  • Linda J. Cox
    • 4
  • John N. Kittinger
    • 5
  • Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana
    • 6
  1. 1.Disaster ResilienceL.L.C.HonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Hazards, Climate and Environment Program, Social Science Research InstituteUniversity of Hawai‘i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.University of Hawaii Economic Research OrganizationUniversity of Hawai‘i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental ManagementUniversity of Hawai‘i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  5. 5.Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and OceansConservation InternationalHonoluluUSA
  6. 6.Hanalei Watershed HuiHanaleiUSA

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