Recovery from disaster: a case study of individual and community resilience in the face of cyclones

Stevenson, Bob, Boon, Helen, Clark, Brenton, Millar, Joanne, Cottrell, Alison, and King, David (2012) Recovery from disaster: a case study of individual and community resilience in the face of cyclones. In: Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference (ANZDMC). pp. 368-386. From: Earth: fire and rain, 16-18 April 2012, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

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This paper reports one of four case studies that are part of a larger study aimed at identifying indicators of individual and community resilience to a disaster event. The case studies were conducted in eastern Australia communities which have experienced different kinds of natural disasters or extreme weather events, namely: cyclone, flood, fire and drought. This research was intended to identify the characteristics and indicators of resilience in and across different communities experiencing different natural disasters. The case study reported here draws on data collected from individual and focus group interviews to examine factors perceived to be critical to individual and community recovery from a major cyclone.

Two different groups of participants were interviewed: (1) a cross-section of community residents or stakeholders (e.g. small business owners, farmers, construction workers, women's groups); and (2) disaster emergency (e.g., state emergency management services, emergency medical services, fire and rescue, ambulance) and recovery respondents (e.g., community welfare agencies, mental health professionals) who were involved in assisting the community during and after the event. A semi-structured interview posed questions to both groups on what helped during and after the event, how different groups coped and which ones were most affected, with particular attention paid to beliefs, behaviours and policies cited as promoting post-disaster resilience.

Key findings that emerged include the critical role in individual and household resilience of strong social networks or experience in being self-sufficient, and the importance of coordinated material and psychological assistance through the recovery phase, particularly to people whose housing or businesses suffered severe damage. The implications of the study raise a challenge for disaster respondents and policymakers of finding an appropriate balance in the extent of support provided and enabling individuals and communities to develop adaptive capacity without becoming dependent on external assistance.

Item ID: 28181
Item Type: Conference Item (Research - E1)
ISBN: 978-0-9808147-4-3
Keywords: disaster; community; cyclone; adaptation; climate change
Funders: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF)
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2013 03:37
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160499 Human Geography not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 100%
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