The Significance of Community Support for Survivors of a Natural Disaster
Marian S. Harris1, *, Ganita Musa2, Ryan Brookman3
1 University of Washington Tacoma Social Work and Criminal Justice Program 1900 Commerce Street Tacoma, WA 98402-3100, USA
2 University of Washington Tacoma & Child & Family Therapist Southwest Youth and Family Services 4555 Delridge Way SW Seattle, WA 98106, USA
3 University of Washington Tacoma School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences 1900 Commerce Street Tacoma, WA 98402-3100, USA
This community based participatory research study was conducted in Oso, WA. Ten survivors of the 2014 mudslide participated in a focus group and discussed their experiences before and after this natural disaster. Findings revealed that the majority of participants had feelings of confusion/redundancy and were still processing feelings of grief and loss at the time of the focus group. Another finding was the strong sense of community expressed by all participants and the high level of support participants provided to each other during and after the mudslide. The study also highlighted the need for mental health resources to be part of any disaster relief plan because survivors need emotional support. Finally, findings demonstrated the importance of outside relief organizations seeking input from community members prior to implementing disaster relief; findings highlighted the significance of utilizing the high level of knowledge regarding area landslides expressed by members of the Oso community.
Keywords: Community, Sense of community, Disaster relief, Physical community, Mental health, Social community, Mudslide, Community support, Oso, WA.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Washington Tacoma Social Work and Criminal Justice Program 1900 Commerce Street Tacoma, WA 98402-3100, USA; Tel: (253) 692-4554; Fax: (253) 692-5825; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org