Considering Convergence, Coordination, and Social Capital in Disasters

Wachtendorf, Tricia
Kendra, James M.
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Disaster Research Center
Following the 2001 World Trade Center disaster, New York City experienced high levels of individual and organizational convergence: volunteers and groups wanting to assist in the response. Since that time, several initiatives across the U.S. have developed to encourage volunteer disaster response integration. Before 9/11, other formal and informal volunteer organizations had worked toward similar goals, and community-based disaster mitigation was touted as a valuable approach in both Canada and the U.S. Drawing upon examples from research conducted after the 2001 World Trade Center disaster response in New York City as well as research on community based mitigation and response programs, this presentation outlines important considerations when planning for volunteer and community wide participation in disaster reduction and response strategies. Findings point to the value of incorporating community-based groups in disaster related issues and decision making, as well as recognizing the social capital, resources, and expertise these groups bring to the table. This presentation also stresses the need to balance the real considerations and challenges that accompany public integration. Establishing and maintaining partnerships, incorporating groups not traditionally involved in disaster response or mitigation decision-making, setting boundaries, credentialing, familiarizing volunteers with existing response systems, and leveraging initiatives to maximize mitigation opportunities are some of the issues discussed.
disaster response , disaster mitigation , World Trade Center , community