Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Perceptions of Resilience Among Coastal Emergency Managers

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:30 PM
Board Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ashley Ross, Sam Houston State University
Scholars assign varied meanings to the term community resilience, and the federal government has put forward multiple designations of resilience in homeland security and disaster management directives. Given this, it is important to examine how local practitioners perceive resilience and what influences these perceptions. This paper evaluates resilience perceptions held by 51 emergency managers in counties and parishes located within 25 miles of the Gulf Coast. The surveys were conducted in-person during the months of May and June 2012. To assess perceptions of county emergency managers, the question was asked: What does the term community resilience mean to you? Varied responses were given, of which ten themes are identified: bounce back, preparedness, continuity, recovery, self-sufficiency, community responsibility, disaster phases, and adaption. The three most frequently used themes (bounce back, self-reliance, and community) were analyzed to determine if adaptive capacity, organizational capacity, and disaster experience shape those interpretations. The findings indicate that the understanding of bouncing back is more likely among emergency managers in counties that are urban, have low adaptive capacity, and have experienced lower intensity natural disasters. Understanding resilience as self-reliance is more likely among emergency managers in counties that are rural, have greater adaptive capacity, and experience with severe flooding. Interpreting resilience as community is more likely with emergency managers that perceive lower adaptive capacity and work in counties that have less emergency management staff. Emergency managers with greater years of experience in emergency response and disaster management are also more likely to understand resilience as community while those with less are more likely to say resilience is bouncing back.

Full Paper: