|About the Book|
On August twenty-ninth, 2005 Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States.1 Less than one month later, Hurricane Rita made landfall along the Gulf Coast. As the social dimensions of the 2005 catastrophic hurricanes emerged, emergency response agencies quickly became overwhelmed. Consequently, the focus of emergency response to the hurricanes has highlighted the failures of government response. While elements of emergency response could have been more efficient, the response to the hurricanes of non-government organizations played a significant role in ensuring the safety of disaster victims in addition to their routine activities. The adaptability and responses of such non-government organizations demonstrated the strengths and capacities of their local expertise, social networks and capability to serve a broad constituent of at-risk populations. Among these groups, the battered womens advocates drew upon skills developed and strengthened in their every day work. Coupled with their rich social networks, these groups demonstrated the particular capacities that non-government organizations carry but are too often ignored by the formal disaster response.-Disasters are sociologically relevant because they allow us to address fundamental questions of social organization.2 Disasters as social upheaval, then, impact not only geographic areas differently - for example, coastal versus urban areas - but also groups of people differently. Marginalized groups such as the poor, racial minorities, rural populations, elderly, among others, are left more vulnerable to their consequences. 3 A fundamental organizing principle of social life, and hence all disaster contexts, is gender. There are documented gender differences throughout all stages of the disaster process, which can largely attributed to issues of gender stratification (For examples, see Fothergill, 1996).-The thrust of empirical work on gender and disaster, however, has been mostly confined to the individual level, leaving a need for more research to be done at the organizational level. Indeed, disaster invariably affects organizations too. Small organizations are extremely vulnerable because their precarious state of physical capital and high rates of burnout among staff put them dangerously close to the tipping point. Moreover, social service organizations often face increased service demands and impacted resources in the post-disaster environment (For examples see Enarson, 1998). 4 With an emphasis on the impact and recovery of battered womens agencies, this dissertation explores: (1) how organizations that serve at risk populations work to continue with their organizational mission while contending with a community wide disaster event and, (2) the factors internal and external to the organizations that led to different recovery outcomes.-This research leads to a better understanding of how the routine organizational coordination and communication in which these battered womens organizations engage along with experience from handling routine crisis may improve the safety of at risk populations. Moreover, it will enable a better understanding of the process of organizational adaptation.-1National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration. 2008. Hurricane Katrina. Retrieved on October 14th, 2008. katrina.noaa.gov 2Dynes, Russell. 1970. Organized Behavior in Disaster. Lexington, MA: D. C. Health. 3Blaikie, Piers, Terry Cannon, Ian Davis, and Ben Wisner. 2004. At Risk: Natural Hazards, Peoples Vulnerability, and Disasters, 2nd edition. New York: Routledge. 4Enarson, Elaine. 1998. Through Womens Eyes: A gendered Research Agenda for Disaster Social Science. Disasters 22:157-173.