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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute


Institutional Resilience along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the Context of Pre- and Post-Hurricane Katrina

Khai Hoan Nguyen

Advisor: Dr. Susan L. Cutter

 

ABSTRACT

     Building resilience to disasters helps reduce loss of life and property, allowing communities to recover more quickly from shocks and disruptions. Governing institutions are tasked with tremendous responsibility in terms of mitigating risks and enhancing resilience of local communities through proactive planning and policies. It is important to examine how institutional policies have changed pre- and post-disaster to determine their contribution to community resilience. Metrics and indicators can be used to quantitatively assess, establish baseline, track, and monitor resilience at the community level. Few studies have attempted to measure institutional resilience using a set of indicators and metrics, and even fewer explore the conceptual gaps between academic research on hazards and emergency management practice.

     This research investigates the utility of the Baseline Resilience Indicators for Communities (BRIC) institutional resilience (IR) sub-index in a context-specific case study. This study replicates the BRIC IR sub-index, aggregated at the state scale, for eighty-two counties in Mississippi in the context of pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina. Difference of means and median tests along with evaluating of change in ranking were utilized to determine the drivers of change in institutional resilience from 2000 to 2010 for the state of Mississippi and for Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties. In addition, content analysis of state and local hazard mitigation plans (HMPs) provides contextual information to explain observed changes in institutional resilience metrics as well as in post-disaster mitigation practice. Mitigation spending, flood insurance coverage, disaster aid experience, jurisdictional coordination, and crop insurance coverage are the drivers of change in institutional resilience for the state of Mississippi, while only the first three indicators along with population stability are the drivers for Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties. Increases in mitigation spending and flood insurance coverage can be directly attributed to Hurricane Katrina. Content analysis of state and local HMPs suggests that the theoretical basis of BRIC IR indicators is reflective of mitigation practice. In addition, there are substantial improvements in the post-Hurricane Katrina HMPs in the categories of hazard identification, jurisdictional coordination, reporting of loss data, hazard modeling, participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, and social vulnerability assessment.

Thesis