Natural Hazards

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 1377–1406 | Cite as

The role of social capital, personal networks, and emergency responders in post-disaster recovery and resilience: a study of rural communities in Indiana

  • Arif Mohaimin SadriEmail author
  • Satish V. Ukkusuri
  • Seungyoon Lee
  • Rosalee Clawson
  • Daniel Aldrich
  • Megan Sapp Nelson
  • Justin Seipel
  • Daniel Kelly
Original Paper


The factors that explain the speed of recovery after disaster remain contested. While many have argued that physical infrastructure, social capital, and disaster damage influence the arc of recovery, empirical studies that test these various factors within a unified modeling framework are few. We conducted a mail survey to collect data on household recovery in four small towns in southern Indiana that were hit by deadly tornadoes in March 2012. The recovery effort is ongoing; while many of the homes, businesses, and community facilities were rebuilt in 2013, some are still under construction. We investigate how households in these communities are recovering from damage that they experienced and the role of social capital, personal networks, and assistance from emergency responders on the overall recovery experience. We used an ordered probit modeling framework to test the combined as well as relative effects of (a) damage to physical infrastructures (houses, vehicles, etc.); (b) recovery assistance from emergency responders (FEMA) as well as friends and neighbors; (c) personal network characteristics (size, network density, proximity, length of relationship); (d) social capital (civic engagement, contact with neighbors, trust); and (e) household characteristics. Results show that while households with higher levels of damage experienced slower recovery, those with recovery assistance from neighbors, stronger personal networks, and higher levels of social capital experienced faster recovery. The insights gained in this study will enable emergency managers and disaster response personnel to implement targeted strategies in facilitating post-disaster recovery and community resilience.


Social capital Personal networks Emergency responders Resilience Post-disaster recovery Ordered probit 



This study was funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to Purdue University to address grand challenges through supporting interdisciplinary collaborations, especially between the liberal arts and STEM disciplines. The second and third authors’ work is partially funded by the NSF grant 1638311. The authors are grateful for this support. The authors would also like to acknowledge two students from Courtney Page of Purdue University, Indiana, and Pedro Henrique dos Reis Rezende of FUMEC University, Brazil, for their participation in the earlier part of the project. The authors are also grateful to the reviewers’ valuable comments, which improved the manuscript. However, the authors are solely responsible for the findings presented in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arif Mohaimin Sadri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Satish V. Ukkusuri
    • 2
  • Seungyoon Lee
    • 3
  • Rosalee Clawson
    • 4
  • Daniel Aldrich
    • 5
  • Megan Sapp Nelson
    • 6
  • Justin Seipel
    • 7
  • Daniel Kelly
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringRose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyTerre HauteUSA
  2. 2.Lyles School of Civil EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Brian Lamb School of CommunicationPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  4. 4.Department of Political SciencePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  5. 5.Department of Political ScienceNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  6. 6.Library SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  7. 7.Purdue Polytechnic InstitutePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  8. 8.Department of PhilosophyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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