An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Business Recovery after Disasters

M. Watson, Y. Xiao, J. Helgeson, K. Wu, M. Dillard, S. Hamideh, E. Sutley, J. W. van de Lindt, K. Koliou, K. Farokhnia, A. R. Barbosa, D. Deniz

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Abstractpeer-review


Our research examined business recovery in Lumberton, North Carolina, fifteen months after Hurricane Matthew. Done as part of the larger interdisciplinary effort through the Center of Risk-Based Community Resilience Planning with partner researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the data collection was a collaboration between social scientists, economists, and engineers. The study looked at several indicators of business recovery and their relationship to the built environment, including reported physical damage to the business (e.g., the structure and its contents), damage to households (e.g., worker and customer loss), and effects of utility disruption. We sampled both inside and outside of the inundation area to understand the full range of business impacts. Preliminary findings indicate that just under a third of businesses in our observed sample were still closed at the time of the study, with mixed indicators across recovery categories for those that have reopened.

Prompt 2: What has your research revealed regarding team formation, rapid reconnaissance research coordination, or interdisciplinary collaboration?
This research contributes to the promotion of interdisciplinary collaboration in recovery field studies through methods related to team formation, survey design, and analysis. Collaboration was crucial to the success of the study, in that business recovery is intricately linked to physical, social, and economic systems. New physical damage states for commercial buildings were developed to be consistent across disciplines, and engineers, social scientists, and economists were strategically placed throughout data collection teams. The sampling strategy was done in conjunction with the housing portion of the survey in order to understand the spatial linkages between households and businesses, and to help understand the overall community recovery trajectory. Both the business and household surveys had questions specific to this goal. Lastly, the survey instrument was created through a partnership between researchers from social sciences and economics backgrounds so that data could be used in a range of economic and recovery modelling.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

43rd Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop


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