February, 2009

Filling the Civil-Society Vacuum: Post-Disaster Policy and Community Response

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Large-scale disasters like Hurricane Katrina destroy not only physical infrastructure like homes, streets, and other buildings, but also scatter populations. The absence of businesses, community organizations, and other private stakeholders results in a “civil-society vacuum” in which the role of government tends to expand. As communities struggle to rebound in the midst of uncertainty, this government involvement furthers such uncertainties and inhibits the prospect of robust recovery.

This policy comment discusses this civil-society vacuum that is created in the aftermath of a catastrophic disaster and the effect government policies have on community rebound. The experiences of three New Orleans communities affected by post-Katrina flooding illustrate the ways in which communities may succeed or fail, providing a lesson for how we might improve post-disaster policy.

Read the full article at SSRN.com.

Citation (Chicago Style):

Chamlee-Wright, Emily and Virgil Storr. "Filling the Civil-Society Vacuum: Post-Disaster Policy and Community Response." Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Comment No. 22. Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, February 2009.