Highlighting the value of regional social networks to coastal resiliency and disaster preparedness.
Role: Visualize and synthesize project results for publication and public outreach
Collaborators: Lee, M.R., Blanchard, T.C., Slack, T., and J. Carney
Social networks are a critical component of household preparedness and resilience. While social networks remain strong and dense in coastal Louisiana, they have become more spatially dispersed than they were in the past. Commuting patterns due to job location and improved automobile access, location and size of schools, and other forces have increased the geographical footprint of residents of lower Louisiana. While these spatial patterns appear to resemble a sprawling, decentralized landscape, this study suggests that rather than encouraging a social disconnect through dispersed settlement patterns oriented around a densely populated center, these connections reflect a strong network between groups across the region. Socially close but spatially distant resources are critical for preparedness and recovery from environmental threats or disasters because the widespread impact of these hazards compromises the efficacy of local network resources that might otherwise prove useful. This research challenges several decades of social science theory emphasizing the importance of geographically localized network resources to individual and household well-being (Putnam 2014; Kasarda & Janowitz 1974) by highlighting the value of broader networks to coastal resiliency and disaster preparedness. We targeted two coastal Louisiana parishes (Plaquemines and LaFourche) regularly subjected to disasters and longer term environmental threats to collect data to test this hypothesis.