Skip to main content

Disasters, local organizations, and poverty in the USA, 1998 to 2015

Abstract

Disaster research has drawn attention to how natural hazards transform local organizational dynamics and social inequalities. It has yet to examine how these processes unfold together over time. We begin to fill this gap with a county-level, longitudinal analysis that examines how property damages from natural hazards correlate not only with local shifts in poverty a year later but also counts of for-profit as well as bonding and bridging social capital organizations. Results show that poverty and all organizational types tend to increase with local hazard damages. They also show that poverty tends to increase most where the number of bonding social capital organizations is also increasing. This pattern suggests a Janus-faced dynamic in which bonding, or more inwardly focused, organizations that arise after disaster may end up inadvertently marginalizing those in more dire need.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. We use the term “social capital organizations” to refer to a range of mostly (but not strictly) non-profit organizations. This terminology follows the convention utilized by social capital indexes (Rupasingha, Goetz, and Freshwater 2006), which include organizations that are presumed to activate social capital through cultivating social ties (Paxton 2007; Putnam 2000).

  2. Assessments of natural hazard impacts sometimes distinguish between “damages” and “losses.” Damages refer to the destruction of physical assets, most notably property; losses refer to the reduction of flows of benefits, most notably income (Brusentsev and Vroman 2016). Empirical focus in our study is on damages and how they might correlate with shifts in the organizational structure and general well-being affected areas. To clarify that these damages are from natural hazards, we use “hazard damages” rather than the longer phrase of “damages resulting from natural hazards.

References

  • Adger, W. M. (2003). Social capital, collective action, and adaptation to climate change. Economic Geography, 79(4), 387–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aldrich, D. P. (2012). Building resilience: social capital in a post-disaster recovery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Aldrich, D. P., & Meyer, M. A. (2015). Social capital and community resilience. Am Behav Sci, 59(2), 254–269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alesch, D. J., Holly, J. N., Mittler, E., & Nagy, R. (2001). Organizations at risk: what happens when small businesses and not-for-profits encounter natural disasters. Fairfax: Public Entity Risk Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andrews, K. T., & Edwards, B. (2004). Advocacy organizations in the U.S. political process. Annu Rev Sociol, 30, 479–506.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Asad, A. L. (2015). Contexts of reception, post-disaster migration, and socioeconomic mobility. Popul Environ, 36(3), 279–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brown, C., Stevenson, J., Giovinazzi, S., Seville, E., & Vargo, J. (2015). Factors influencing impacts on and recovery trends of organisations: evidence from the 2010/2011 Canterbury earthquakes. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 14, 56–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Browning, C. R., Wallace, D., Feinberg, S. L., & Cagney, K. A. (2006). Neighborhood social processes, physical conditions, and disaster-related mortality: the case of the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave. Am Sociol Rev, 71, 661–678.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brusentsev, V., & Vroman, W. (2016). Disasters in the United States: frequency, costs, and compensation. Kalamazoo: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Buckland, J., & Rahman, M. (1999). Community-based disaster management during the 1997 Red River Flood in Canada. Disasters, 23(2), 174–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bullard, R. D. (2008). Differential vulnerabilities: environmental and economic inequality and government response to unnatural disasters. Soc Res, 75(3), 753–784.

    Google Scholar 

  • Curtis, K. J., Fussell, E., & DeWaard, J. (2015). Recovery migration after hurricanes Katrina and Rita: spatial concentration and intensification in the migration system. Demography, 52, 1269–1293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cutter, S. L., Boruff, B. J., & Shirley, W. L. (2003). Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Soc Sci Q, 84(2), 242–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cutter, S. L., Barnes, L., Berry, M., Burton, C., Evans, E., Tate, E., & Webb, J. (2008). A place-based model for understanding community resilience to natural disasters. Glob Environ Chang, 18, 598–606.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dahlhamer, J. M., & Tierney, K. J. (1998). Rebounding from disruptive events: Business recovery following the Northridge earthquake. Sociol Spectr, 18(2), 121–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dietch, E. A., & Corey, C. M. (2011). Predicting long-term business recovery four years after hurricane Katrina. Management Research Review, 34(3), 311–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Drabek, T. E., & McEntire, D. A. (2003). Emergent phenomena and the sociology of disaster: lessons, trends and opportunities from the research literature. Disaster Prev Manag, 12(2), 97–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • duPont IV, W., Noy, I., Okuyama, Y., & Sawada, Y. (2015). The long-run socio-economic consequences of a large disaster: the 1995 earthquake in Kobe. Plos One, 10(10), 1–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dutta, S. (2017). Creating in the crucibles of nature’s fury: associational diversity and local social entrepreneurship after natural disasters in California, 1991-2010. Adm Sci Q, 62(3), 443–483.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dynes, R. R. (1970). Organized behavior in disaster. Lexington: Heath Lexington Books.

  • Dynes, R. R. (2005). Community social capital as the primary basis for resilience. University of Delaware Disaster Research Center Preliminary Paper #344.

  • Elliott, J. R., & Clement, M. T. (2017). Natural hazards and local development: the successive nature of landscape transformation in the United States. Social Forces, 96(2), 851–876.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elliott, J. R., & Howell, J. (2017). Beyond disasters: a longitudinal analysis of natural hazards’ unequal impacts on residential instability. Social Forces, 95(3), 1181–1207.

    Google Scholar 

  • Elliott, J. R., & Pais, J. F. (2006). Race, class, and Hurricane Katrina: social differences in human responses to disaster. Soc Sci Res, 35, 395–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elliott, J. R., Haney, T. J., & Sams-Abiodun, P. (2010). Limits to social capital: comparing network assistance in two New Orleans neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Sociol Q, 51, 624–648.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Erikson, K. T. (1976). Everything in its path: destruction of community in the Buffalo Creek flood. New York: Simon & Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fothergill, A., & Peek, L. A. (2004). Poverty and disasters in the United States: a review of recent sociological findings. Nat Hazards, 32, 89–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fothergill, A., & Peek, L. (2015). Children of Katrina. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fussell, E., Curran, S. R., Dunbar, M. D., Babb, M. A., Thompson, L., & Meijer-Irons, J. (2017). Weather-related hazards and population change: a study of hurricanes and tropical storms in the United States, 1980-2012. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 669, 146–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gall, M., Borden, K. A., & Cutter, S. L. (2009). When do losses count? Six fallacies of natural hazards loss data. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 90, 799–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gotham, K. F., & Greenberg, M. (2014). Crisis cities: disaster and redevelopment in New York and New Orleans. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Halaby, C. N. (2004). Panel models in sociological research: theory into practice. Annu Rev Sociol, 30, 507–544.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hawkins, R. L., & Maurer, K. (2010). Bonding, bridging and linking: how social capital operated in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Br J Soc Work, 40(6), 1777–1793.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hazards and Vulnerability Research Index (HVRI) (2016). Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Database for the United States, Version 15.2. [Online Database]. Columbia, SC: Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, University of South Carolina. https://cemhs.asu.edu/sheldus. Retrieved July 2, 2016

  • Howell, J., & Elliott, J. R. (2018). Damages Done: The longitudinal impacts of natural hazards on wealth inequality in the United States. Social Problems. https://doi.org/10.10193/socpro/spy016.

  • Karim, A., & Noy, I. (2016). Poverty and natural disasters—a qualitative survey of the empirical literature. The Singapore Economic Review, 61(1), 1–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kendra, J., & Wachtendorf, T. (2016). American Dunkirk: the waterborne evacuation of Manhattan on 9/11. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kim, H., & Marcouiller, D. W. (2016). Natural disaster response, community resilience, and economic capacity: a case study of coastal Florida. Soc Nat Resour, 29(8), 981–997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Klein, N. (2007). The shock doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism. New York: Metropolitan Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Klinenberg, E. (2015). Heat wave: a social autopsy of disaster in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Kwon, S., Heflin, C., & Ruef, M. (2013). Community social capital and entrepreneurship. Am Sociol Rev, 78(6), 980–1008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, M. I., & Schrank, H. L. (2014). Small business disaster recovery: a research framework. Nat Hazards, 72, 597–616.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall, M. I., Niehm, L. S., Sydnor, S. B., & Schrank, H. L. (2015). Predicting small business decline after a natural disaster: an analysis of pre-existing conditions. Nat Hazards, 79, 331–354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McPherson, M., Smith-Lovin, L., & Cook, J. M. (2001). Bird of a feather: homophily in social networks. Annu Rev Sociol, 27, 415–444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, M. (2018). Social capital in disaster research. In H. Rodríguez, W. Donner, & J. E. Trainor (Eds.), Handbook of disasters research (pp. 263–286). New York: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Nakagawa, Y., & Shaw, R. (2004). Social capital: a missing link to disaster recovery. Int J Mass Emerg Disasters, 22(1), 5–34.

    Google Scholar 

  • Norris, F. H., Stevens, S. P., Pfefferbaum, B., Wyche, K. F., & Pfefferbaum, R. L. (2008). Community resilience as a metaphor, theory, set of capacities, and strategy for disaster readiness. Am J Community Psychol, 41, 127–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Noy, I., & Vu, T. B. (2010). The economics of natural disasters in a developing country: the case of Vietnam. J Asian Econ, 21(4), 345–354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pais, J., & Elliott, J. R. (2008). Places as recovery machines: vulnerability and neighborhood change after major hurricanes. Social Forces, 86(4), 1415–1453.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Patterson, O., Weil, F., & Patel, K. (2010). The role of community in disaster response: conceptual models. Popul Res Policy Rev, 29(2), 127–141.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Paxton, P. (2002). Social capital and democracy: an interdependent relationship. Am Sociol Rev, 67(2), 254–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Paxton, P. (2007). Association memberships and generalized trust: a multilevel model across 31 countries. Social Forces, 86(1), 47–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pelling, M. (2003). The vulnerability of cities: natural disasters and social resilience. New York: Taylor & Francis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pena, A. A., Zahran, S., Underwood, A., & Weiler, S. (2014). Effect of natural disasters on local nonprofit activity. Growth & Change, 45(4), 590–610.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Portes, A. (2000). The two meanings of social capital. Sociol Forum, 15(1), 1–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Preston, B. L. (2013). Local path dependence of U.S. socioeconomic exposure to climate extremes and the vulnerability commitment. Glob Environ Chang, 23(4), 719–732.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Putnam, R. (2000). Bowling alone: the collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon & Schuster.

    Google Scholar 

  • Quarantelli, E. L. (1966) Organization under stress. Columbus: Disaster Research Center 1966.

  • Quarantelli, E. L., & Dynes, R. R. (1977). Response to social crisis and disaster. Annu Rev Sociol, 3, 23–49.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ritchie, L. A. (2012). Individual stress, collective trauma, and social capital in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Sociol Inq, 82(2), 187–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ritchie, L. A., & Gill, D. A. (2007). Social capital theory as an integrating theoretical framework in technological disaster research. Sociol Spectr, 27(1), 103–129.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rivera, J. D., & Nickels, A. E. (2014). Social capital, community resilience, and faith-based organizations in disaster recovery: a case study of Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church. Risks, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy, 5(2), 178–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rodríguez, H., Trainor, J., & Quarantelli, E. L. (2006). Rising to the challenges of catastrophe: the emergent and prosocial behavior following Hurricane Katrina. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 604, 82–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rudel, T. K. (2013). Defensive environmentalists and the dynamics of global reform. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rupasingha, A., Goetz, S. J., & Freshwater, D. (2006). The production of social capital in US counties. J Socio-Econ, 35, 83–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sadri, A. M., Ukkusuri, S. V., Lee, S., Clawson, R., Aldrich, D., Nelson, M. S., Seipel, J., & Kelly, D. (2018). The role of social capital, personal networks, and emergency responders in post-disaster recovery and resilience: a study of rural communities in Indiana. Nat Hazards, 90, 1377–1406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schrank, H. L., Marshall, M. I., Hall-Phillips, A., Wiatt, R. F., & Jones, N. E. (2013). Small-business demise and recovery after Katrina: rate of survival and demise. Nat Hazards, 65, 2353–2374.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sherrieb, K., Norris, F. H., & Galea, S. (2010). Measuring capacities for community resilience. Soc Indic Res, 99, 227–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Solnit, R. (2009). A paradise built in hell: the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster. New York: Penguin Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stafford, K., Bhargava, V., Danes, S. M., Haynes, G., & Brewton, K. E. (2010). Factors associated with long-term survival of family businesses: duration analysis. Journal of Family Economic Issues, 31, 442–457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stafford, K., Danes, S. M., & Haynes, G. W. (2013). Long-term family firm survival and growth considering owning family adaptive capacity and federal disaster assistance receipt. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 4, 188–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tierney, K. J. (1997). Business impacts of the Northridge earthquake. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 5(2), 87–97.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tierney, K. J. (2007). From the margins to the mainstream? Disaster research at the crossroads. Annu Rev Sociol, 33, 503–525.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tierney, K. (2012). Disaster governance: social, political, and economic dimensions. Annual Review of Environmental Resources, 37, 341–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Tierney, K. (2014). The social roots of risk: producing disasters, promoting resilience. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wang, L., & Ganapati, N. E. (2018). Disasters and social capital: exploring the impact of hurricane Katrina on Gulf Coast counties. Soc Sci Q, 99(1), 296–312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Webb, G. R., Tierney, K. J., & Dahlhamer, J. M. (2002). Predicting long-term business recovery from disaster: a comparison of the Loma Prieta earthquake and Hurricane Andrew. Environmental Hazards, 4, 45–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wickes, R., Zahnow, R., Taylor, M., & Piquero, A. R. (2015). Neighborhood structure, social capital, and community resilience: longitudinal evidence from the 2011 Brisbane flood disaster. Soc Sci Q, 96(2), 330–353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wickes, R., Britt, C., & Broidy, L. (2017). The resilience of neighborhood social processes: a case study of the 2011 Brisbane flood. Soc Sci Res, 62, 96–119.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams, T. A., Gruber, D. A., Sutcliffe, K. M., Shepherd, D. A., & Zhao, E. Y. (2017). Organizational response to adversity: fusing crisis management and resilience research streams. Acad Manag Ann, 11(2), 733–769.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin T. Smiley.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Smiley, K.T., Howell, J. & Elliott, J.R. Disasters, local organizations, and poverty in the USA, 1998 to 2015. Popul Environ 40, 115–135 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-018-0304-8

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-018-0304-8

Keywords

  • Disasters
  • Natural hazards
  • Social capital
  • Poverty
  • Bonding social capital
  • Bridging social capital