Elements of Community Resilence in The World Trade Center Attack

Kendra, James M.
Wachtendorf, Tricia
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Disaster Research Center
In this paper, we examine the elements of resilience exhibited by New York City departments as they responded to the World Trade Center attack in September, 2001 while at the same time losing their primary emergency operations center (EOC) facility at 7 World Trade Center. Our focus lies primarily on the reestablishment of the EOC in the days that followed its destruction. Data were gathered during exploratory fieldwork commencing within two days of the attack and continuing for two months thereafter. We base the results on over 750 collective hours of systematically observing key planning meetings and highly secured facilities, including the EOC, incident command posts, supply and food staging areas, and the disaster site also known as 'ground zero'. The data and findings we present in this paper are preliminary; however, they offer initial insight into understanding organizational and community resilience in disaster situations and therefore warrant our consideration. The paper begins by presenting conceptions of resilience as understood from several disciplinary perspectives, noting that work in these disciplines has sought to understand how a natural or social system that experiences disturbance either sustains its functional processes or fails to do so. Although researchers differ in the terms they use to describe different features of organizational resilience, they nevertheless orient their analyses around such features as redundancy, resourcefulness, communication and the capacity for self-organization in the face of extreme demands.
resilience , World Trade Center , emergency operations center ,