Arizona societal response to disaster.” Explain what that

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Last updated: May 5, 2019

Arizona State UniversityCollege of Public Service and CommunitySolutionsCPP 510 OnlineHazards GovernanceSpring 2018Instructor: Jeremy Rodrigues and KimberlyBaileyReaction Paper #1  Name: Michael Friedmann Essay Question A: The NRC book “Facing Hazards and Disasters” presents, inChapter 1, something it calls a “conceptual model of societal response todisaster.” Explain what that model is (i.e. its basic components) and discussyour thoughts on how this model relates to any (or all) of the three essaysabout governance in Unit 1 (Tierney, Stoker, Ahrens and Rudolph) – speciallythe proposition that the model might not be as clear as it should be in termsof how governance affects the ways in which community’s deal with hazards anddisasters. The NRC book “Facing Hazardsand Disasters” discusses a “conceptual model of societal response to disaster” bywhich it directly references “Figure 1.1” which denotes a paralleledcorrelation between 1) hazards research and 2) disaster research, with theunifying element to both being “disaster preparedness.” The NRC book assertsthat “components of hazard and disaster research have evolved historically withdifferent emphases, depending on the types of hazards and disasters studied andresearch topics related to them.

” The discussion indicates that there is a needfor “further integration of hazards and disaster research” which is “depicted”in Figure 1.1 “by the overlapping circles and two-directional arrows.” Themodel depicted in Figure 1.1 is “adapted from Tierney et al. (2001) and the NRCbook asserts that it “is a fundamental future requirement for the social sciences.

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“It should also be a “fundamental…requirement” to any emergency managementpreparation, at all governmental levels, as recognizing the key elementsprovided by Tierney et al. (2001) in “Figure 1.1” by integration of hazards anddisaster research, “vulnerability, mitigation, response and recovery” being keyelements to effective preparedness in any emergency situation.

It is necessary to understand thebasic elements of “Figure 1.1” in order to understand the discussion the NRC bookattempts in regard to “Figure 1.2” which is much more complicated in how itdepicts “societal response to disaster.” The figure itself is confusing atfirst glance, and requires some understanding of the emergency response systemas well as how communities and societies response to emergencies and/ordisasters. “Figure 1.2” could have been simplified or created in a manner withbetter applicability and more manageable interpretation, although the NRC bookasserts that it “has been constructed to represent a more refined conceptualmodel developed by the committee to complete its charge from the NSF.” It seemsthat the model has been adapted from three separate sources Kreps (1985),Cutter (1996) and Lindell and Prater (2003), over a span of time measuringnearly two decades, which perhaps explains why the model itself, in the “figure”format, appears so confusing. Societal perceptions change over time.

Societieschange over time. The impact of disasters are mitigated over time as we learnto better respond and gain a better grasp of the world around us. The threatsaround us change with time. A lapse of twenty years between Kreps (1985) interpretationof society and disasters to Lindell and Prater’s (2003) interpretation of thesame, could be problematic. There are an additional fourteen-years between Lindelland Prater’s (2003) interpretation and our examination of the NRC’s model today(and a span of three years between Lindell and Prater’s (2003) interpretationsand the publication of the NRC).The interpretation taken fromthe “figure” is that “societal response” is cyclical and perpetual (denoted bythe circular arrows which create a circle), when in fact, it is not always so. Drasticfailures in “societal response” were witnessed following Hurricane Katrina. Failuresin “societal response” can be attributed to several factors, 1) people notcaring, 2) information not reaching people, 3) an inability to respond (to nameonly a few).

When we discuss “societal response” we can examine the eventsfollowing the 9/11 attacks on New York City. There was a tremendous and almost immediate”societal response” to that “disaster” yet there was NO “preparation” for suchan attack, as the perception persisted that the United States was NOTvulnerable to such an attack. The simple fact that the events of 9/11 occurred inreal time, and were witnessed by people at ground zero, as well as peoplethroughout the world, established a compelling “societal response” which wasalmost instantaneous. In emergencies and disasters there are two kinds of people,those who respond and react, and those who flee or freeze. At ground zero,people responded. They reacted.

In doing so, many lost their lives. Theaftermath was tantamount to a city under siege, the heart of New York City lay inshambles, search and rescue parties worked endlessly seeking survivors, thecity unified, strangers became friends, recovery became a process of healing aswell as clean-up and reconstruction. In stark contrast, there are still placesin Louisiana which are uninhabitable following the destructive impact ofHurricane Katrina, and governmental failures at preparation and mitigation andrecovery.While the NRC book asserts that”the mainstream research topics depicted in Figure 1.

1 appropriately remaincentral to Figure 1.2″ the fact is that the “fundamental” and key elementsdenoted within “Figure 1.1” (which are very easy to interpret in Figure 1.1) areconfusingly swallowed up in “Figure 1.

2.” The NRC book explains that “representedin Figure 1.2, specific disaster events (whether environmental, technological,or willful) are placed in the center circle as social catalysts of collectiveaction before, when, and after they occur.

” These “disaster events” include: 1)frequency, 2) predictability, 3) controllability, 4) length of forewarning, 5)magnitude of impact, 6) scope of impact (spatial and social), 7) and durationof impact. Despite the fact that the NRC book relies on “Figure 1.2” to establishits model for “societal response to disaster” it fails to address how, despitethe “disaster events” it applies to its model as “social catalysts ofcollective action” society has continuously and repetitively failed to engagein “collective action” on what the NRC book defines as “social catalysts. Inthe case of Hurricane Katrina, there was a very clear understanding as to the “frequency”of the disaster or disasters of that very nature, there was also an understandingand applicability as to “predictability” and as the levies were constructed andcould have been modified or built-upon in order to further address the potentialhazards posed by Hurricane Katrina, “controllability” was present, yet ignored.There was an understanding of the potential “magnitude of impact” and there was”forewarning” preceding the event. There was also an understanding of the “scopeof the impact” both before and during and following the event. Society, satback and watched. Emergency responders, under policy, left the area, yet neverreturned to render aid and aid in recovery.

Therefore, the NRC model asserted under”Figure 1.2″ which denotes “social catalysts of collective action” are subjectto additional variables within communities and are not equivocally capable ofbeing called a “societal response to a disaster” rather, they are a model whichmay or may not occur in any of numerous hazard or disaster events, based uponresources, the community in which the event occurs, the political climate, thenature of that community, and unfortunately, the economic status of thatcommunity and the race of that community. All of these are factors and variableswhich directly affect and impact a “societal response to a disaster” andfurther affect and impact “social catalysts of or for collective action.”The article “The Importance of Governance in RiskReduction and Disaster Management” by Joachim Ahrens and Patrick Rudolph examinesdifferent elements of “governance” such as “accountability, participation,predictability and transparency” with a focus on the 2004 tsunami disasterwhich struck southern Asia (Indonesia). The examination by Ahrens and Rudolphfocused specifically on a third-world country or area, impacted by a severenatural disaster and when applying the models of the NRC book, primarily “Figure1.

2″ and the idea of “social catalysts of collective action” it is easily recognizablethat following that tragic event, there was a very limited ability for “collectiveaction” and the idea of “societal response to a disaster” was no longersomething which was capable of being achieved at the micro-level (centrallocation of the disaster, i.e. community), and required a greater applicabilityto that of the macro-level (the world, i.e. United States, the World).

Thevulnerability of small nations, countries, and communities, should be clearly evaluatedand effective responses formulated to address significant issues such asresource availability including an examination of response times for suchresources and the assets available for recovery. While the article discusses “poorinstitutional arrangements and poor governance” and how those may “lead toineffective risk reduction and poor disaster management” models such as those createdby the NRC was greatly inadequate when denoting their applicability to certainor specific demographics and/or communities or largely rural areas with limitedresources.While the NRC book asserts that “practically, collectiveactions related to these constructs and their interactions increase or decreasethe human harm and social disruption of disaster” that is not always the case.There is truly no method by which we can measure the effectiveness of a modelwhich must always be applied differently in every situation, or event ordisaster, based upon a variety of variables, from human nature, to societalprejudices, to political climate, to race, to economy, to location, to expenditures,to compassion and empathy.

If the NRC truly believes that their model iseffective enough to be applied successfully across the board in every disaster,then they have failed tremendously to grasp the diversity which exists withinthe realm of disasters as they occur daily. The fact is, that the NRC iscorrect in its assertion that “research on hazards and disasters has importantimplications for both basic science and public policy” but so does theapplication of a community’s inability to respond, or a community’s failingdesire to respond. The reality is that some communities choose to die.Reference Detroit, and the swaths of neighborhoods which once flourished, whichare no longer inhabited and resemble something out of “The Walking Dead.” It isclear, upon examination of the model produced by the NRC, that it fails to findapplicability to all communities prior to, during and following a disaster, andin that failing, the arrogance of survivability of a greater community renderssmaller communities and their inability to survive an issue without relevanceto the model itself. Facing hazards and disasters understanding humandimensions.

(2006). Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.


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