The Functioning of Expanding Organizations in Community Disasters

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Disaster Research Center
The concern of this monograph is with understanding organized activities in communities which experience disasters. Every year, many American communities as well as others in the countless countries around the world mobilize their resources to cope with the impact of various kinds of emergencies, including disasters. In particular communities, such emergencies may be almost predictable. While they are not anticipated in the sense that community members look forward to them, they do represent a somewhat repetitive experience. In other communities, such events are less repetitive but, when they do occur, they reveal a reality which makes them difficult to forget. Like every significant drama in the life of a community, disasters can be viewed and described in a number of ways. For most purposes, the common descriptions of earthquake, hurricane, explosion, tornado, flood, epidemic, etc, give us insight into both the cause and some of the consequences of a disaster agent. If we wish increased understanding, we can note that disaster agents, themselves, possess characteristics which cause variations in their consequences. For example, such agents differ in their frequency, predictability, controlability, cause, speed of onset, length of possible forewarning, duration, scope of impact as well as in their destructive potential. These dimensions wise might be quite different. While such classifications and combinations add precision, it would also add a degree of unwanted complexity to the following discussion. We will assume here, unless otherwise noted, that the physical impact of the disaster event was created by an agent which possessed the characteristics of little forewarning, a rapid speed of onset and wide destructive potential. Such characteristics would best describe earthquakes and tornadoes. The major concern of this monograph is not in such characteristics of disaster agents nor in the physical consequences of impact. The primary concern here is in the sociological impact of such agents and in the attempt of organized community life to come to terms with its resulting social disruption.
Expanding organizations, Community organizations, American Red Cross, Civil Defense, Interorganizational relationships