Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Leslie Acton

Committee Chair School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Committee Member 2

Dr. David Cochran

Committee Member 2 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. Luke Fairbanks

Committee Member 3 School

Ocean Science and Engineering

Abstract

The impacts of major hurricanes are extensively researched in Disaster Resilience literature and the field of Human Geography; in contrast, the aftermath of minor tropical cyclones is understudied. Along the Gulf Coast in 2020 and 2021, more minor tropical cyclones made landfall then major hurricanes (NOAA, 2021). Despite the frequency of minor tropical cyclones, few studies have considered the resources and actors involved in recovery from minor tropical cyclones.

This thesis uses qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews and document collection, to examine how Faith-based Organization (FBO) and government agency leaders in Biloxi, Mississippi provide resources to residents, interact with each other, and engage with vulnerable communities in the wake of minor tropical cyclones. Findings show the limitations of governmental agency funding and resources following minor tropical cyclones, revealing why recovery efforts are often dependent on FBOs. Results also demonstrate that many FBO and government agency leaders have found vulnerabilities to and recovery from minor tropical cyclones to be multidimensional. For these local actors, the term minor underrepresents the destruction and harm caused by minor tropical cyclones.

Given ongoing hardships from hurricane impacts along the Gulf Coast, this case study offers insights into the key roles that FBOs and government agencies play in recovery from minor tropical cyclones. The findings suggest opportunities for the development of future research on minor disasters, both within coastal Mississippi and beyond.

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