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

Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Comment No. 22

22 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2009

See all articles by Emily L. Chamlee-Wright

Emily L. Chamlee-Wright

Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University

Virgil Henry Storr

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center; University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom

Date Written: February 20, 2009

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, civil society

Suggested Citation

Chamlee-Wright, Emily L. and Storr, Virgil Henry, Filling the Civil-Society Vacuum: Post-Disaster Policy and Community Response (February 20, 2009). Mercatus Policy Series, Policy Comment No. 22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1349871 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1349871

Emily L. Chamlee-Wright (Contact Author)

Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University ( email )

3401 N. Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201-4432
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://theihs.org/

Virgil Henry Storr

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://virgilstorr.org/

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://virgilstorr.org/

University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

HOME PAGE: http://virgilstorr.org/

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