CIVIL ENGINEERING 365 ALL ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING



AbstractNonprofit social service organizations play key roles in disaster response and recovery efforts targeting socially vulnerable populations, particularly in the United States. Increasingly frequent and intense disasters associated with climate change may raise new challenges for nonprofits. Yet little research has explored how changing disaster patterns may impact the roles of nonprofits. With this in mind, we examine the case of Tallahassee, Florida, which experienced a 3-year surge in tropical storm activity from 2016 to 2018. Based on interviews with nonprofit staff, supplemented by document analysis and participant observation, we explore how nonprofits experienced and adapted to this intensification of storm activity. We find that nonprofits that had formerly been peripheral to disaster work—such as homeless shelters and case management agencies—took on new responsibilities during this period but struggled to gain recognition as key actors. The authors develop a four-part scheme for classifying the roles of nonprofits and apply this scheme in interpreting the diverse experiences and adaptation strategies of nonprofit social service organizations. There is a need to more fully integrate some classes of nonprofits that have not traditionally been seen as key actors in disaster systems.



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