Social Vulnerability and Perceptions of Recovery From the 2011 Tuscaloosa Tornado

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 12-1-2018


Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs


Environmental hazards and natural disasters disproportionately affect socially vulnerable individuals and communities. However, studies of social vulnerability are often limited to socio-demographic measures of sensitivity to disaster impact without controlling for the effect of social networks on response capabilities. This paper assesses the role of socio-demographic and social network variables when controlling for the preparation for and impact of a disaster using the 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado as a case study. Using the results of a random digit dialing survey of individuals impacted by the Tuscaloosa tornado (n = 115), we model the factors of personal recovery from the disaster. We find that race, age, and education significantly affected one’s perceived recovery from the tornado; however, exclusive of religious attendance, social network variables did not affect recovery perception. Time to recovery or to reach their personal “new normal” was longer for older respondents. Moreover, race and education, while statistically significant in degree of recovery, were not factors in speed of recovery. Social capital measures of recovery were consistent for degree and speed, further confirming that further investigation is needed into the role of religious involvement in both degree and speed of recovery.

Publication Title

Southeastern Geographer



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