2nd Edition

The Human Side of Disaster

By Thomas E. Drabek Copyright 2013
    446 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Since the first edition of The Human Side of Disaster was published in 2009, new catastrophes have plagued the globe, including earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand, tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, floods in numerous locations, Hurricane Sandy, and the infamous BP oil spill. Enhanced with new cases and real-world examples, The Human Side of Disaster, Second Edition presents an updated summary of the social science knowledge base of human responses to disaster. Dr. Drabek draws upon his 40-plus years of conducting research on individual, group, and organizational responses to disaster to illustrate and integrate key insights from the social sciences to teach us how to anticipate human behaviors in crisis.

    The book begins with a series of original short stories rooted within actual disaster events. These stories are woven into the entire text to demonstrate essential findings from the research literature. Dr. Drabek provides an overview of the range of disasters and hazards confronting the public and an explanation of why these are increasing each year, both in number and scope of impact.

    The core of the book is a summary of key findings regarding disaster warning responses, evacuation behavior, initial post-impact survival behavior, traditional and emergent roles of volunteers, and both short-term and longer-term disaster impacts. The theme of "organized-disorganization" is used to illustrate multiorganizational response networks that form the key managerial task for local emergency managers. The final chapter provides a new vision for the emergency management profession—one that reflects a more strategic approach wherein disasters are viewed as non-routine social problems.

    This book will continue to be an invaluable reference for professionals and students in emergency management and public policy and aid organizations who need to understand human behavior and how best to communicate and work with the public in disaster situations.

    The Taxi
    The Setting
    The Story
    The Earring
    The Setting
    The Story
    The Honeymoon
    The Setting
    The Story
    The Ceiling
    The Setting
    The Story
    The Regulation
    The Setting
    The Story
    The Exercise
    The Setting
    The Story
    The Insights
    The Problem and Approach
    The Danger around You Is Increasing
    Population Movement
    Climate Change
    Potentials for Catastrophe
    The Many Faces of Disaster
    Natural Disasters
    Technological Disasters
    Conflict Disasters
    The Approach
    The Insights
    Hear That Siren?
    Who Panics and Why
    Neutralizing Threat Information
    Doing It Right
    But Not Everyone Responds the Same
    Ethnic Minorities
    Message Characteristics
    Group Context
    The Insights
    It Can’t Be Done
    That Lady Named Carla
    A Disaster Subculture?
    The Mythology of Car Wrecks
    "Resisters? We Will Arrest Them!"
    Confirmation: A Likely Action
    Appeal to Authority
    Appeal to Peer
    Observational Confirmation
    Latent Confirmation
    Families Are the Units
    The Insights
    Shall We Leave?
    Pathways to Evacuation
    Evacuation by Default
    Evacuation by Invitation
    Evacuation by Compromise
    Evacuation by Decision
    Where Do They Go?
    "We Wanna Go Home"
    Evacuation Facilitators
    Encourage Family Planning for an Evacuation
    Media Consistency
    Forceful, but Not Mandatory
    Allay Looting Fears
    Facilitate Transportation
    Establish Family Message Centers
    An Aside: Crisis Relocation Planning and Homeland
    Security Advisory System
    Crisis Relocation Planning
    Homeland Security Advisory System
    The Insights
    Why Me?
    Victim Responses
    The Disaster Syndrome: Another Myth Exploded
    Heroes: They Are for Real
    Helpers: How Many Are There?
    "Where Is My Daughter?"
    But There Are Constraints
    The Age of Litigation
    Expanding Poverty
    Bureaucratic Mindsets
    The Insights
    Volunteers? You Bet!
    The Flood Breakers
    Are Volunteers Like Yachts?
    The Utopian Mood
    Unveiling the Many Forms of Volunteerism
    The Insights
    Organized Disorganization
    Raining in Indianapolis
    "But We Deal with Emergencies Daily"
    Indianapolis Coliseum Explosion, October 31, 1963
    Wichita Falls, Texas, Tornado, April 10, 1979
    Mount St. Helens Eruption, May 18, 1980
    Sorting Out Organizational Responders
    Is Communication the Problem?
    Lake Pomona SAR Response, June 17, 1978
    Social Map: Lake Pomona Communication Structure
    Cooperation Is Not Enough
    Issue: Focused Public Information Plan
    The Insights
    Life in a Fishbowl
    The Bitch Phase
    Looting Fears
    Bad Dreams
    Seeking Closure
    Short-Term Oscillations
    Windows of Opportunity
    "When Can We Go Home?"
    The Insights
    What about My Psyche?
    An Atypical Example
    Modal Patterns
    Patterned Variations
    Kinfolk and Friends
    "This Is My Mother"
    The Insights
    What Must Be Done?
    Variable Perceptions of Risk
    Reducing Vulnerabilities
    Spread the Risk
    Creating a Culture of Preparedness
    Disasters Are Nonroutine Social Problems
    The Insights
    Community Change Agents
    Empirical Studies
    Professionalism in Emergency Management
    An Expanded Vision
    Strategies for Maintaining Organizational Integrity
    Mitigation Strategies
    Preparedness Strategies
    Disaster Response Coordination Strategies
    Core Strategies
    Consequence Strategies
    Customer Strategies
    Control Strategies
    Cultural Strategies
    Concluding Principles
    Suggested Readings


    Thomas E. Drabek is an emeritus professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Denver and continues his research on a part-time basis. His research has examined group and organizational responses to large-scale disasters. Professor Drabek has authored or coauthored over 100 book chapters and journal articles and 28 books. He served as the co-editor of the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters and was elected president of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Disasters. He prepared four instructor guides for the Emergency Management Institute. In August 2007, Dr. Drabek was the third recipient of the E. L. Quarantelli Award for contributions to social science disaster theory by the International Research Committee on Disasters, and in June 2008, he received the first Dr. B. Wayne Blanchard Award for Academic Excellence in Emergency Management Higher Education. He frequently lectures at academic and emergency management workshops and conventions throughout the United States and around the world.