Browsing Disaster Research Center by Author "Aguirre, Benigno E."
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Item1999 Floods in Veracruz and the Paradigm of Vulnerability(Disaster Research Center, 2004) Aguirre, Benigno E.; Macias, Jesus M.This study examines the distribution of warnings and of services to victims of the 1999 floods in Veracruz, Mexico and offers a criticism of vulnerability as the dominant paradigm guiding national and international disaster-related programs. It has sections on the vulnerability paradigm, the 1999 flood, and the methods used in the analysis. The information comes from a survey of 385 head of households flood victims residing in three cities in the north of Veracruz, Poza Rica, Gutierrez Zamora, and Tecolutla. The results indicate that government services to the population threatened by the floods were almost nonexistent. Radio programming and personal relations with friends, neighbors, and kin, were the most important sources of warnings about the hazard. The respondents’ integration in their communities and the social organizations of these communities were key determinants of their receipt of warnings and assistance such as vertical evacuation sheltering. Authorities should place much greater emphasis than they do now on facilitating the use of vertical evacuation and the service of radio stations providing information to communities at risk of extreme weather events, improving their weather and disaster-preparedness programming and making radios available to people in areas at risk of severe weather and other hazards. Disaster preparedness and mitigation need to be made part of their efforts in community development, encouraging the growth of social capital that can be used for disaster response and recovery. The implications of these findings for the continued use of the paradigm of vulnerability that provides guidelines to present-day international assistance at times of disasters are considered. ItemAnnotated Bibliography on Fire Science(Disaster Research Center, 2007) Torres, Manuel; Barsky, Lauren; Aguirre, Benigno E.; Poteyeva, RitaThis annotated bibliography is a product of the Disaster Research Center’s ongoing study of search and rescue (S&R) activity in fires which uses the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data collected by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) to model fire injury and death. It was compiled as part of our examination of civilian death and injury due to structural fires. It focuses on such areas as structural collapse, civilian injury and mortality, firefighter injury and death, causes of fires, behaviors related to injury and death, and the process of search and rescue in fires. It presents a synthesis of several key areas of interest within the emerging discipline. While it is not an exhaustive bibliography representative of all areas of study, it provides an initial overview of several key areas and could serve as a starting point to research. Available findings from various studies could be compared to replicate and augment existing knowledge, as well to develop theories on the effects of the presence of S&R on morbidity and on the causes of civilian injury and mortality. ItemA Brief Summary of Search and Rescue Literature: A Report to COT Netherlands(Disaster Research Center, 2008) Trainor, Joseph; Aguirre, Benigno E.; McNeil, SueThe accumulated of research on search and rescue (SAR) allows us to identify repeating patterns that should be considered in the development of an effective plan for national emergency response: (1) SAR is not simply an organizational activity, it necessarily includes the social and collective behavior of volunteers; (2) Preexisting and emergent organizations, social statuses and social identities, such as neighborhood and work place relationships and family and neighborhood social identities, serve as a basis for the emergence of new SAR groups and constitute the fundamental concepts and categories that are needed to understand and improve SAR activities; (3) SAR activities do not emerge from a vacuum; as an example of the principle of continuity advocated by Quarantelli and Dynes (1977), there are always elements of the traditional social structure embedded within collective behavior entities, and their emergent division of labor, role structure, and activities are also dependent on prior social relationships and forms of social organization in the community or region; (4) Breakdown models of social organizational patterns in disaster are not useful to understand SAR. Television reports and misinformed reporters often misinterpret throngs of people moving seemingly at random at the sites destroyed by various hazards, and assume that the people were disoriented immediately after impact and had lost their ability to enact social roles. Despite these reports, scientific research shows the absence of widespread confusion, lack of coordination, and panic (Aguirre, 2005). The seeming disorganization and aimless movement of people is the result of their individual and collective acts as they try to accomplish multiple individual and collective goals under severe time constraints (c.f. Fritz & Mathewson, 1957). Creative problem-solving and rationality is a more accurate way of understanding their actions (Aroni & Durkin, n.d., p. 30). In short search and rescue (SAR) activities are part of the complex emergency response system that emerges in response to disasters. ItemCan Sustainable Development Sustain Us?(Disaster Research Center, 2001) Aguirre, Benigno E.This paper presents a review of Disasters by Design, the recent, influential second U.S. national assessment of research on natural and technological hazards that takes stock of the disciplinary knowledge and policy issues in the field of disasters. It identifies four analytical matters left unresolved in its central theme on the importance of sustainable development for disaster mitigation, having to do with the dual emphasis on the local and on the global, cultural change, the implicit assumptions that planners and social engineers know best, and the consensual model of politics. It also identifies some practical problems that the adoption of a sustainable development framework advocated by the report may pose for the specialty. ItemCommunicating Risk and Warnings: An Integrated and Interdisciplinary Research Approach(Disaster Research Center, 2004) Rodriguez, Havidan; Diaz, Walter; Aguirre, Benigno E.Forecasting weather has become a very important scientific, economic, and political endeavor. With the development of new and enhanced technology, weather forecasting skills have improved significantly in the United States and internationally (NRC, 1999 and 2003). However, weather forecasting is a probabilistic science and many uncertainties still remain (see NSF, 2002). Indeed, despite significant improvements in our ability to predict the weather in the short- and long-term, recent experiences with natural hazards show that we continue to confront important challenges regarding lead times, false alarm rates, the accuracy and reliability of the information that is being communicated, and our ability to elicit the appropriate response from the public. As lead time in issuing severe weather warnings to threatened populations increases with improvements in weather monitoring, detection, and mass communication technology, the social and organizational features of integrated warning systems become paramount as key factors in saving lives and reducing damages to property. There is a need to continue to expand our knowledge regarding how people and organizations perceive and react to weather forecasts and warnings. This knowledge must be integrated with other technical information on weather forecasts already available so as to make weather information more useful to society. This paper explores the role of technology, the media, and interdisciplinary research in the communication of warnings, risk, and disaster information. We also focus on how researchers can communicate the importance, value, and contribution of hazard and disaster research to the end-user community, including emergency management organizations and the general public. We argue that significant changes need to occur in the existing scientific paradigms in order to incorporate the needs and problems that the end-user communities confront. Further, we provide a critical analysis on the importance and potential contributions of interdisciplinary research in the disaster field. We emphasize the need to develop an integrated research model to communicate risk and warnings, which takes into account the new and emerging technology, the role of the media, and the changing socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the general population. ItemA Conceptual Framework for Collective Behavior and Action and Its Application to U.S. Student Riots in The 1990s(Disaster Research Center, 2001) Aguirre, Benigno E.The paper offers a conceptualization of collective behavior and action incidents, defining them as suffused by socio-cultural emergence, inextricably dramaturgical in nature, exhibiting a limited range of dominant emotions, carried out by five master social units (masses, publics, associational networks, social movement organizations, and small groups), and located both in time and space as well as in social spaces reflecting issues associated with master categories of age, race/ethnicity, class/occupation, gender/sex, and ethnocentrism/nationalism. It then applies the scheme to student riots in the 1990s in the United States. ItemA Critical Review Of Emergency Evacuation Simulation Models(Disaster Research Center, 2004) Santos, Gabriel; Aguirre, Benigno E. ItemDisaster in Cuba(Disaster Research Center, 2004) Aguirre, Benigno E.The article offers a criticism of the point of view that other countries should emulate disaster programs in Cuba as well as that the removal of Mr. Castro from power will bring about a failed state system that will precipitate a complex humanitarian emergency in which the United States government would coordinate the response of the international community. It outlines Cuba’s disaster practices, the possibility of famine, and non-governmental organizations working in Cuba as important harbingers of civil society. ItemEducation, Sustainable Development, and Disasters: An Interactive and Collaborative Approach(Disaster Research Center, 2005) Rodriguez, Havidan; Aguirre, Benigno E. ItemHomeland Security Warnings: Lessons Learned And Unlearned(Disaster Research Center, 2003) Aguirre, Benigno E. ItemThe Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Medical and Healthcare Infrastructure: A Focus on Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Resiliency(2006) Rodriguez, Havidan; Aguirre, Benigno E. ItemInformation Seeking Behavior in Collective Surges: Testing Alternative Collective Behavior Formulations(Disaster Research Center, 2002) Aguirre, Benigno E.This paper tests a set of predictions regarding information seeking behavior in collective surges derived from models of rumors by Shibutani, Knof, and McPhail. Data for the analysis comes from a random sample of 1,042 households in Memphis, Tennessee surveyed by the Disaster Research Center prior to Iben Browning's December 3rd 1990 prediction of an imminent massive earthquake in the New Madrid fault zone. Result suppport McPhail's hypothesis that the network of relationships available to people is an important determinant of their information seeking behavior in situations of collective preoccupations as well as Shibutani's prediction of a positive association between the use of formal and informal sources of information. The results fail to support Knopf's prediction that information seeking is impacted by pre-existing generalized beliefs. Attention to the logistics of accessibility and microparticipation is a useful supplementation to the emphasis on the use of the mass media for understanding informal information seeking activities during collective preoccupations. ItemThe Invisible Dead in the World Trade Center Attack: Another Case Study of How Social Factors Affect and Distort Disaster Statistics(Disaster Research Center, 2005) Aguirre, Benigno E.; Quarantelli, E. L.This essay uses information from Latino immigrants who were victims in the World Trade Center (WTC) to illustrate the operation of counting as a central, theoretical issue. It examines the present day emphases on the operation of organizations, their lack of coordination, and fraud, which are used to explain the lack of validity of disaster mortality statistics. It complements these explanations with Alfred Schutz's phenomenological perspective, examining the social categories and understandings that were used to create the official list of the dead by the City of New York, the link of the official list with receipt of money from charities, and the work of Asociación Tepeyac de New York in developing an unofficial list of Latino victims some of whom were excluded from the official list. Results show that the Mexican mass media exaggerated the numbers of Mexican dead by a ratio of 15 to 1. Contrary to mass media reports, the Asociación also assisted people who were included in the official count of the dead. The list of the Asociación is overwhelmingly a list of male names, but neither gender has a greater proportion of exclusion from the official list. Exclusion from the official list occurs more often to Mexican men recently arrived in the country and earning a living in the underground economy of Lower Manhattan. A significantly greater proportion of Mexican victims are excluded from the official list if compared to Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. The social invisibility of some of the Latino victims is not caused solely by structural factors such as the operation of bureaucracies and systemic discrimination, nor is solely the effect of the categories used to organize the count of the dead; it is also a function of the social behavior of Latino immigrants and of their surviving kin during the course of their immigration and incorporation into the United States. The paper concludes with some suggestions about how statistics on disaster deaths can be improved. ItemLocal Search and Rescue Teams in the United States(Disaster Research Center, 2006) Denver, Megan; Perez, Jaime; Aguirre, Benigno E.Arguably one of the least appreciated actors in disaster response is local search and rescue (SAR) teams, despite their importance in saving lives. In contrast to fire and police departments, federal Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) taskforces, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other well known disaster response organizations, local SAR teams have not received much recognition or support at the national level. This is the case even in the contemporary context in which "homeland security" and "improvements of resiliency" in American institutions are buzzwords. Their "invisibility" is also reflected in the dearth of research literature about them in the field of emergency management and the social sciences of disasters. An exception to this is the work by Lois (1999), who looked at the dynamics of a local SAR team and provided an in-depth view of the authority structure and the slow advancement of new members in the hierarchy of the group. Earlier, Drabek (1981) also provided insights by surveying local SAR teams in Washington and Wyoming to better understand attitudes towards regulations, agency jurisdictions, SAR funding, and issues of legal liability. While these efforts begin to explore important questions in this understudied field, the current study attempts to give a summary view of the main features of this network of responders. ItemOn the Concept of Resilience(Disaster Research Center, 2006) Aguirre, Benigno E.The concept of resilience comprises physical, biological, psychological, social, and cultural systems. Resilience has been defined in many ways (for example, see Wisner, et al. 2005), to include an ability to "bounce back" and continue to function; predict and prevent potential problems; improvise and recombine resources in new ways; develop a collective and shared vision of dangers and what to do about them; and constant monitoring of threatening contextual conditions (Kendra and Wachtendorf, 2003). For our purpose, we define resilience as physical, biological, personality, social, and cultural systems' capability to effectively absorb, respond, and recover from an internally or externally induced set of extraordinary demands. The complexity inherent in the concept of resilience derives from these multiple systems in which it can be observed in simultaneity, which often do not have the same levels of resillience, and from the interactions and inter-effects that take place among these systems. ItemOrganizational Adaptation to Crises: Mechanisms of Coordination and Structural Change(Disaster Research Center, 1976-11) Dynes, Russell R.; Aguirre, Benigno E. ItemProblems Of Method In The Development Of Propositional Inventories In The Field Of Disaster Research(Disaster Research Center, 1976-05) Aguirre, Benigno E. ItemSocial Scientific Insights on Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies(Disaster Research Center, 2008) Trainor, Joseph; Aguirre, Benigno E.; Barnshaw, JohnIt is common for governmental agencies to plan for emergencies. It’s human nature that we want to reduce our exposure to the dangers around us. While risk reduction happens at many levels (e.g. individual, family, organizational, community, and state) government agencies play a key role in ensuring the safety and security of the citizenry. The Delaware Health and Social Services agency (DHSS) is no different. With a mission to: "improve the quality of life for Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations," disaster response neatly falls into the agencies prevue. Equally important, the agency strives to be a self-correcting organization working to retool and keep pace with changing client needs and a changing service delivery environment. Such a vision requires informed decision-making. As a result the Division of Public Health’s Disaster preparedness section contracted the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware to produce a document that provides sound knowledge from evidence based assessments of planning and response to public health emergencies. The goal of this effort is to maximize the ability of DE officials to prevent, avoid, respond, and recover from major public health emergencies through a review of the evidence based research related to this topic. This report will cover a number of issues, but it focuses most directly on social science insights that can be of value to planning and response processes. Pursuing to contract specifications, this report consists of three parts. The first part presents some of the most important research themes in disaster science. The second part presents an annotated bibliography of public health and disaster. The third part provides answers to a series of questions Division of Public officials asked DRC to answer. The first two sections are based on research findings. In the final section we provide our expert opinions based on scientific knowledge, but not in every instance drawn exclusively from research findings. ItemSocietal Factors Involved on Risk Mitigation Policy: Challenges to Seismic Retrofitting of Hospital Buildings(Disaster Research Center, 2008) Sousa e Silva, Delta; Aguirre, Benigno E.This paper discusses the recurrent problems that emerge in the seismic risk mitigation policy process. It offers a definition of risk mitigation, and examines its application to earthquake threat, particularly the challenges to mitigation adoption and implementation processes. California experience with the application of legislation (SB1953) mandating seismic structural and non-structural retrofitting of hospital facilities illustrates these problems and also shows how stakeholders, who are supposed to act in accordance with the law, have adjusted to the new regulatory environment. This case is illustrative of how well-intended rules may fail in their applicability because of a failure in anticipating undesirable and unintended outcomes. It brings attention to the embeddedness of mitigation efforts on institutional processes, and the importance of taking into account the specificities of target-areas and organizations when investing on seismic safety rehabilitation and retrofitting. ItemSome Major Themes In The Empirical Disaster Evacuation Literature(Disaster Research Center, 1977-05) Aguirre, Benigno E.; Swisher, Robert G.