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McClay Borawski, Beverly Lynn.
The construction of adversarial growth in the wake of a hurricane
h [electronic resource] /
by Beverly Lynn McClay Borawski.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
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(Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: This study employed a qualitative approach to explore the factors that contribute to positive change and growth following a natural disaster. The qualitative methodology included narrative interviews and family group interviews that were conducted with six families in Florida that had experienced two or three hurricanes within six weeks in 2004. Narrative analysis and thematic analysis were used to discover what factors contributed to participants experiencing positive growth. Participants described the experience of surviving and coping with the hurricane. Participants reported that preparation before a hurricane was a three-part process that involved physical, mental, and emotional preparation. Four actions were referred to as helpful to stay positive during a hurricane: (a) drawing on family, friends, and neighbors for continual emotional support; (b) keeping occupied with a fun activity; (c) leaning on religious faith; (d) and listening to up-to-date information. Families described nine sources of support that enabled them to cope after the hurricane: (a) the government, (b) charitable organizations, (c) homeowner's insurance, (d) family, (e) friends, (f) religious faith, (g) stories, (h) life perspective, and (i) music. Participants reported eight factors that encouraged adversarial growth. Communicating emotional support within relationships was the most commonly cited factor in recovery and growth after a hurricane, followed by worldview, appreciation, religious faith, patience, self-reliance, teamwork, and creativity. A holistic approach to disaster planning that includes consideration of those elements that contribute to positive growth for the survivor is recommended. Further research is needed to understand how to facilitate adversarial growth among disaster survivors through emotional support and interpersonal networks.
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Cissna, Kenneth N.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
The Construction of Adversarial Growth in the Wake of a Hurricane by Beverly L. McClay Borawski A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Communication College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor, Kenneth N. Cissna, Ph.D. Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D. Jane Jorgenson, Ph.D. Graham A. Tobin, Ph.D. Date of Approval March 29, 2011 Keywords: Coping, Emotional Support, Interpersonal Communication, Natural Disasters, Recovery Copyright 2011, Beverly L. McClay Borawski
DEDICATION To Dr. Kenneth N. Cissna, my committee chair, advisor, professor, and friend, thank you for your unflagging support, encoura gement, insight, and advice. The countless hours you have devoted to providi ng me with useful feedback have been sustaining and inspiring. To Drs. Carolyn Ellis, Jane Jorgenson, and Graham A. To bin, thank you for serving on my committee. To my husband Tom and my children, Shari and T.J., th ank you for your patience, understanding, and unconditional love. To my mother, Gloria McClay, thank you for believing in me and reminding me to Â“Get it done!Â” To my late father, William McClay, thank you for your example of setting and achieving high goals. To my Pasco-Hernando Community College colleagues and f riends, thank you for creating a nurturing environment that has stre ngthened and uplifted me, making it possible to complete this project. To the project participants, thank you for sharing you r stories of adversarial growth.
i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT .......................................... ................................................... ............. iv CHAPTER 1: NATURAL DISASTERS AND ADVERSARIAL GROWTH .............. 1 Literature Review ................................ ................................................... .... 4 Adversarial Growth ............................... ........................................... 4 Adversarial Growth and Positive Psychology Studies .. ................... 7 Emotions ....................................... ....................................... 7 Virtues ........................................ .......................................... 9 Self-Perception ................................. .................................. 10 Relationships ................................... ................................... 11 Stories ........................................ ........................................ 12 Adversarial Growth and Hazards Studies ............ ......................... 13 Posttraumatic growth ............................. ............................. 14 Mental health .................................. .................................... 18 Preparedness .................................... ................................. 20 Adversarial Growth and Communication Studies ....... ................... 24 Crisis and emergency risk communication .............. ........... 25 Social support ................................... .................................. 28 Storytelling ................................... ....................................... 35 Research Questions .................................. .............................................. 38 Summary .......................................... ................................................... .... 39 CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY ............................ ............................................. 41 Method ........................................... ................................................... ....... 41 Participants ..................................... .............................................. 44 The Brown family ............................... ................................. 51 The Smith family ............................... .................................. 52 The Allen family ............................... ................................... 53 The White family ............................... .................................. 53 The Dean family ................................ ................................. 54 The Thomas family ............................... .............................. 54 Interviews ...................................... ................................................ 54 Narrative interviews ........................... ................................. 57 Family group interviews ........................ .............................. 58 Analysis ......................................... ................................................ 59 Narrative analysis .............................. ................................. 59 Thematic analysis ................................. .............................. 60
ii SummaryÂ…Â…Â…Â…Â…Â… .................................................. .......................... 63 CHAPTER 3: NARRATIVES.............................. ................................................. 6 4 The Brown Family ................................. ................................................... 65 The Smith Family ................................. ................................................... 81 Jane Smith ....................................... ............................................. 81 Chuck and Betty Smith ............................ ...................................... 89 The Allen Family ................................. ................................................... .. 98 The White Family ................................. .................................................. 105 The Dean Family .................................. ................................................. 1 15 The Thomas Family ................................. .............................................. 126 CHAPTER 4: THEMATIC ANALYSIS ...................... ......................................... 134 Hurricane Time Periods ............................. ............................................ 135 Getting Ready Before a Hurricane ................. ............................. 135 Physical preparation ............................. ............................ 137 Mental preparation ............................. .............................. 143 Emotional preparation .......................... ............................ 146 Surviving During a Hurricane ..................... ................................. 148 Continual emotional support .................... ......................... 148 Keeping occupied ................................. ............................ 149 Religious faith ................................. .................................. 151 Up-to-Date information ......................... ............................ 152 Coping after a Hurricane ......................... .................................... 153 Government ..................................... ................................. 154 Charitable organizations ....................... ............................ 157 Family ......................................... ...................................... 160 Friends ........................................ ..................................... 162 Religious faith ................................. .................................. 162 Stories ........................................ ...................................... 163 Life perspective ................................. ............................... 164 Music ............................................ .................................... 165 Summary .......................................... ................................................... .. 166 CHAPTER 5: ADVERSARIAL GROWTH ..................... .................................... 168 Adversarial Growth Experiences ...................... ...................................... 169 The Brown Family ................................ ....................................... 169 The Smith Family ................................ ........................................ 171 The Allen Family ................................ ......................................... 171 The White Family ................................ ........................................ 172 The Dean Family ................................. ........................................ 172 The Thomas Family ................................ .................................... 174 Adversarial Growth Factors ......................... .......................................... 174
iii Emotional Support ............................... ........................................ 174 Family ......................................... ...................................... 175 Friends ........................................ ..................................... 177 Neighbors ...................................... ................................... 177 Hurricane survivors .............................. ............................ 178 Stories ........................................ ...................................... 178 Support groups ................................. ................................ 179 Worldview ....................................... ............................................ 180 Appreciation ..................................... ........................................... 184 Religious Faith .................................. .......................................... 188 Patience ........................................ .............................................. 191 Self-Reliance .................................... ........................................... 193 Teamwork ........................................ ........................................... 194 Creativity ...................................... ............................................... 195 Relationships among Adversarial Growth Factors ....... .......................... 196 Summary .......................................... ................................................... .. 198 CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION.............................. .............................................. 200 Summary .......................................... ................................................... .. 200 Potential Benefits ............................... ................................................... 202 Limitations ...................................... ................................................... ..... 205 Implications ...................................... ................................................... ... 207 REFERENCES ........................................ ................................................... ...... 209 ABOUT THE AUTHOR .................................. ....................................... END PAGE
iv The Construction of Adversarial Growth in the Wake of a Hurricane Beverly L. McClay Borawski ABSTRACT This study employed a qualitative approach to explore the factors that contribute to positive change and growth following a n atural disaster. The qualitative methodology included narrative interview s and family group interviews that were conducted with six families in Florida that had experienced two or three hurricanes within six weeks in 2004. Narrative analysis a nd thematic analysis were used to discover what factors contributed to particip ants experiencing positive growth. Participants described the experience of surviving and cop ing with the hurricane. Participants reported that preparation befo re a hurricane was a threepart process that involved physical, mental, and emotio nal preparation. Four actions were referred to as helpful to stay positive du ring a hurricane: (a) drawing on family, friends, and neighbors for continual emotio nal support; (b) keeping occupied with a fun activity; (c) leaning on religious faith; (d) and listening to upto-date information. Families described nine sources of support that enabled them to cope after the hurricane: (a) the government, (b) charitable organizations, (c) homeownerÂ’s insurance, (d) family, ( e) friends, (f) religious faith, (g) stories, (h) life perspective, and (i) music
v Participants reported eight factors that encouraged ad versarial growth. Communicating emotional support within relationships w as the most commonly cited factor in recovery and growth after a hurricane, f ollowed by worldview, appreciation, religious faith, patience, self-reliance, teamwork, and creativity. A holistic approach to disaster planning that includes con sideration of those elements that contribute to positive growth for the survivor is recommended. Further research is needed to understand ho w to facilitate adversarial growth among disaster survivors through emo tional support and interpersonal networks.
1 CHAPTER 1 NATURAL DISASTERS AND ADVERSARIAL GROWTH In human society at all its levels persons confirm one a nother in a practical way to some extent or other in their personal qualiti es and capacities, and a society may be termed human in the measure to which its members confirm one another. Martin Buber (1998, p. 57) ***** Natural disasters can be terrible. They can destroy home s, livelihoods, and communities. They can rip families apart. They can be costly and even deadly. Some natural disasters can be predicted to some e xtent. Hurricanes are one of these disasters. Hurricanes are a threat to people every year. In the Atlantic hurricane season, which includes the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mex ico, approximately 16 to 31 named storms occur every year with an average of 6 expected to be hurricanes (National Hurricane Center, 2010c). Hurricanes can be deadly and financially draining. In 1 900, the unnamed hurricane that hit Galveston, Texas, caused 8,000 deaths (Gibson, 2006). Hurricane Andrew left 6.5 billion dollars of damage i n the United States in 1992 (National Hurricane Center, 2010a). In 2005, Hurrican e Katrina killed over 2000
2 people and cost an estimated 75 billion dollars (Nati onal Hurricane Center, 2010b). Most people assume that after a devastating natural disa ster everyone who is affected suffers and that few people, if any, en d up better in some way than they were before. Stories of loss and tragedy hav e been told often and rightly so. Still, there is another postdisaster story, a story of positive change and growth, one that has not been told as often, but one that should be heard. At a Project Hope Â“celebration of recoveryÂ” event a year af ter Hurricane Katrina that was Â“designed to provide a bit of relaxation and fun as well as act as the beginning of a support group for Katrina victims,Â” Ann e Lindberg, a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times reported discovering that some Katrina survivors were strengthened and grew from the experience (2006, pp. B1, B4). Rue Boggs, 41, explained how the experience had changed her and her children: Â“They appreciate everything,Â” she said. Â“They look at the wo rld differently. Every day thereÂ’s something and they laugh. I love that. TheyÂ’r e accepting people (as they are). I love thatÂ” (Lindberg, p. B4). In another case Lindberg quoted Linda Pendleton, 50, as saying that the storm and its afterma th taught her how strong she is. The comments of Boggs and Pendleton indicate that they experienced positive change and growth after the disaster, but what do we know about how they reached this point? How do people get through a natural disaster and experience positive growth? What keeps them from givin g up? To what extent do they rely on personal relationships and family for socia l and emotional support?
3 Is it one word, person, touch, scene, attitude, or exper ience that supports or provides the vehicle for positive growth after disaster? How might we confirm people in the growth process? Adversity can be the springboard to change and growth. Henderson Grotberg (2000) reported that natural disasters can en courage positive growth in people. Further, adversarial growth is not a new idea Throughout history, positive growth has been experienced by people and stu died in the social sciences. Still, we often undervalue the human capacity n ot only to survive but even to grow from adversity. Positive growth has been documented in individuals who have experienced a life crisis, but few studies exist about interpersonal communication and positive growth following natural di sasters. This study examines the nuances of how hurricane survivors experien ce adversarial growth through interpersonal communication. The Natural Hazards Center, a national and internati onal center to share social science and policy research regarding disasters, contai ns few studies of positive growth in disasters. Existing studies of the expe riences of disasters and the recovery from them have noted the importance of social support (Norris, 2001), but few studies have examined the place of inte rpersonal communication in positive growth among survivors of natural disasters. I suggest that we must consider disaster from a holistic per spective and conduct research on not only the negative aspects of disast er but the positive aspects as well. I argue the need for qualitative studi es that investigate the place of interpersonal communication in adversarial growth in survivors of natural
4 disasters. In the next section, I define adversarial gro wth and then review studies in positive psychology, hazards, and communication that contribute to our understanding of adversarial growth in natural disaster s. I discuss why it is necessary to conduct qualitative studies on the place of i nterpersonal communication in positive growth in natural disasters. Literature Review In the literature review, I first examine the defini tion of growth and discuss why I chose to use the term Â“adversarial growthÂ” for t his study. Then, I explore studies of emotions, virtues, self-perception, relation ships, and stories relating to adversarial growth in positive psychology. Next, in the section on hazards studies, I discuss studies of posttraumatic growth. Then, I explore studies of mental health and preparedness that relate to natural disasters and adversarial growth. Finally, I discuss studies in crisis and emergency r isk communication, social support, and storytelling that correlate with adv ersarial growth and interpersonal communication in natural disasters. Adversarial Growth We know that, in some cases, people not only survive tra umas but even experience a Â“higher level of functioning than that w hich existed prior to the [traumatic] eventÂ” (Linley & Joseph, 2004, p. 11). Tra uma may reveal strengths that bolster survivors, causing them to regain a sense of normalcy and even to become better than ever (McClay Borawski, 2007). Joseph a nd Linley (2008) suggested that Â“growth following adversity is about psych ological well-being and changes in assumptions about the self and the worldÂ” (p. 350). This is often
5 called adversarial growth Other terms that have been used to describe positive growth after adversity are thriving blessings posttraumatic growth stress-related growth capacity to thrive perceived benefits positive by-products positive adjustment resilience and positive adaptation (Linley & Joseph, 2004). Joseph and Linley (2008) suggested that the terms surrou nding adversarial growth are still being debated because Â“no single term is used consistently and systematicallyÂ” to describe growth after a n adverse situation (p. 339). Each term suggests slightly different meanings. For this dissertation, following Linley and Joseph (2004, 2008), I have select ed as my key term adversarial growth but consider the similarities and differences between adversarial growth and other related terms that are o ften applied to positive growth. The term Â“thrivingÂ” is often used to describe growth bu t doesnÂ’t encompass trauma as does the term adversarial growth. Â“Bl essingsÂ” has religious undertones, which adversarial growth does not Further, religion is not considered part of the concept of adversarial growth. Jose ph and Linley (2008) argued that the term Â“posttraumatic growthÂ” is associate d with illness, but often growth after adversity is a part of life for many peo ple who do not suffer from posttraumatic symptoms. The term Â“stress-related growthÂ” i s more closely attuned to adversarial growth because it includes stress an d growth, and does contain a suggestion of positivity, but it doesnÂ’t conta in the scope of adversarial growth. Â“Capacity to thriveÂ” is an interesting term be cause the phrase evokes an
6 inherent ability to survive and grow, but it doesnÂ’t suggest an association with trauma. Â“ResilienceÂ” replaced the discontinued term Â“hardinessÂ” i n the PsychINFO articles database in 2003 and is often used interchangea bly with adversarial growth (American Psychological Association, 2006). But resi lience has been used to imply Â“bouncing back after something bad happensÂ” rather than growth or positive change (Longstaff, Mergel, & Armstrong, 200 9, p. 2). Resilience studies appear to be concerned with building resilience to adversity so you can come back to a Â“better placeÂ” (Longstaff et al., p. 2). By contrast, adversarial growth involves growing through exposure to adversity. Adversarial growth is the preferred term for this study because it is a collective term that suggests positive growth after exper iencing adverse or life challenging events such as, to borrow a list from Linle y and Joseph (2004), Â“chronic illness, heart attacks, breast cancer, bone marrow transplants, HIV and AIDS, rape and sexual assault, military combat, mariti me disasters, plane crashes, tornadoes, shootings, bereavement, injury, [and ] recovery from substance addictionÂ” (p. 11). The term adversarial growt h was introduced in the literature in Linley and JosephÂ’s 2004 article, Â“Positiv e Change Following Trauma and Adversity: A Review,Â” in the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Adversarial growth also appears to be linked to the stu dy of positive psychology introduced by Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi ( 2000, pp. 5-14). In the next section, I examine studies associated with adversaria l growth in positive psychology.
7 Adversarial Growth and Positive Psychology Studies In this section, I first discuss a series of studies that ha ve explored the role of emotions in adversarial growth, and then I consider several other studies that have explored growth through virtues, self-perception, relationships, and stories in various disasters. Emotions. Studies of emotions in positive psychology are promising to the study of adversarial growth. People often experie nce positive and negative emotions in natural disasters. These emotions affect adve rsarial growth. Fredrickson, Tugade, Waugh, and Larkin (2003) reported that people may use positive emotions to grow positively after experiencin g adversity. In contrast, negative emotions can often affect growth adversely (Jo seph & Linley, 2008). Joseph and Linley (2008) suggested three ways positive em otions may influence adversarial growth: (a) an Â“undoing effectÂ” on negative emotions, (b) a Â“broadeningÂ” of peopleÂ’s repertoires of thought and a ction, and (c) the development of resources, physical, psychological, and socia l (p. 345). Frederickson (1998) reported the Â“broaden-and-buildÂ” t heory may explain why people experience positive emotions in adverse situati ons (p. 315). This theory considers the connection between positive emotions and ou r thoughts and actions: Positive emotions broaden (rather than narrow) an ind ividualÂ’s thoughtaction repertoire, with joy creating the urge to play interest creating the urge to explore, contentment the urge to savor and integrate, and love a recurrent cycle of each of these urges. In turn these bro adened thought
8 action repertories can have the often incidental effect of building an individualÂ’s personal resources, including physical resources, intellectual resources, and social resources. (p. 315) Frederickson and Joiner (2002) suggested that positive emo tions contribute to an increase in thoughts and actions and therefore improve peopleÂ’s emotional wellbeing (p. 172). Positive emotions may contribute not only to an Â“undoi ng effectÂ” regarding negative emotions and Â“the broadening of thought-act ion repertoriesÂ” but also may build resources such as physical and mental health ( Joseph & Linley, 2008, p. 345). Wood, Joseph, Lloyd, and Atkins (2009) found in a sleep study that the positive emotion encouraged better and longer sleep p atterns. Frederickson (2004) reported that positive emotions both Â“ fuel psychological resilienceÂ” and build Â“social resourcesÂ” (pp. 1375, 1369). Joseph and Linley (2008) found that interpersonal rela tionships grew as people experienced positive emotions through an Â“incre ased sense of valuing and appreciationÂ” when people gave and received help from one another after adversity (p. 346). They reported that encouraging po sitive emotions as soon as possible after a trauma situation may enhance positive growth in the long term. They suggested that people who have experienced positiv e emotions may be more creative and flexible in their behavior, which l eads to more positive emotions. Metzl (2009) reported that originality and flexibility predict well-being in a natural disaster (p. 112).
9 Negative emotions are often experienced after adversi ty and may snowball into more negativity. Joseph and Linley (2008 ) explained that this negativity results in appraising even more events negat ively, thus Â“reducing effective coping strategies, and isolating potential sour ces of support,Â” which results in a downward or negative spiral (p. 345). Neg ativity influences people to take actions that result in things not going well which makes them feel more negative. They suggested that negativity may be counte racted through positive emotions (e.g., humor, gratitude, appreciation, inter est, love, curiosity) and that this is helpful in recovery and growth (p. 345). Virtues. Peterson and Seligman (2003) found that not only do positive and negative emotions surface after people have exper ienced trauma but also that traumas often bring out the best in people. They reported that after the September 11 th terrorist attack on the United States Â“virtues such as f aith, hope, gratitude, and teamwork increasedÂ” among people (p. 38 3). Clark (2006) offered evidence of the social world after disaster through comme nts from a weblog on Hurricane Katrina: In talking to relatives who had to bail ahead of Rita they found the same kind of rolling community that we discovered ahead of K atrina. ItÂ’s a bitch when youÂ’re forced to be on the road, but itÂ’s pretty cool in some ways too. By and large, folks show their best sides and not their worst. (p. 101) In his study using video ethnography with Hurricane Kat rina survivors, Shrum (2007) found that people living in Baton Roug e generally exhibited goodwill toward the people who had been forced to ev acuate to Baton Rouge:
10 People opened their homes to evacuees, the displaced; interpersonal communication channels that were nonexistent or inactive were opened. Structural relationships were no longer good predicto rs of communication flow: complete strangers discussed important matters as tho ugh they were lifelong friends . . The desire to Â“do somethingÂ” was palpable throughout the city, as it doubled in size. (pp. 98-99) Shrum (2007) suggested that not only was goodwill in e ffect for survivors but the most common theme among survivors was that they were th e Â“lucky ones,Â” which was prompted and followed by a description of the ir losses (p. 100). Shrum (2007) reported that three months after Hurrica nes Katrina and Rita, rescue and recovery workers experienced less of the g oodwill: Rescue and recovery workers describe a sequence of phases in the public response, moving from appreciation to indifference to hostility. By December 2005, when residents finally returned to the Lower Ninth Ward, security was increased due to the threat of violence. (p. 100) On the other hand, ShrumÂ’s (2007) own experience thre e months after the hurricanes was Â“amazingÂ” and far different than that r eported by the rescue and recovery workers (p. 101). He reported continuing to re ceive Â“helpfulness, affability, and human companionship under conditions of duressÂ” (pp. 101-102). Self-Perception. In the studies that led to the development of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, Tedeschi and Calhoun (1 996) found that Â“new possibilities, personal strength, spiritual change, relati ng to others, and appreciationÂ” were parts of positive growth after adve rsity (p. 460) (see also
11 Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006). Positive growth was reflecte d as changes in selfperception, interpersonal relationships, and philosophy of life (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996) Calhoun and Tedeschi (2006) defined positive growth in self-perception as Â“vulnerable yet stronger,Â” meaning that the individu al experiences the world as Â“more dangerous, unpredictable, a world in which oneÂ’ s own vulnerability becomes clear and salientÂ” and finds that they survived, met the test, and have become stronger (p. 5). Positive growth in self percept ion can lead to new possibilities, perhaps a significant change in a career or new interests (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006). Janoff-Bulman (2006) reported the situation of the survivor who has experienced growth: Â“Their palpable awareness o f vulnerability and loss coupled with their re-built, generally positive assumpt ive world creates the climate for meaning, value, and commitmentÂ” (p. 95). Relationships. Adversarial growth may involve interpersonal relation ships (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006; Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). P eople may feel more compassion for their fellow human beings after having e xperienced a trauma. Calhoun and Tedeschi (2006) explained the elements of growth in relationships following adversity: A greater sense of intimacy, closeness, and freedom to be oneself, disclosing even socially undesirable elements of oneself o r oneÂ’s experience are also reported by persons who have strugg led with traumatic events. This increased sense is sometimes viewed as a double-
12 edged swordÂ—you find out who your real friends are and those that stay get a lot closer. (pp. 5-6) Families have described becoming closer after having gon e through a trauma together (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 2006; see also children, Cryder, Kilmer, Tedeschi, & Calhoun, 2006). Calhoun and Tedeschi (2006) reported that positive gro wth after experiencing trauma may result in a changed philosophy of life, including priorities, appreciation, and spirituality. They found that people may grow in what they view as important in life and experienced grate fulness for their lives. People valued what they had and found new meaning and conte ntment in life. Adversarial growth encourages appreciation for relatio nships and an understanding of what is important in life. The storie s people often tell in relationships may play a role in adversarial growth. Stories. Meichenbaum (2006) found that to grow positively af ter a trauma, more is needed than just not thinking negatively He sug gested we look at the use of narrative and how people construct stories of survivor and victim: Whether the form of trauma exposure is due to intent ional human design (e.g., some form of individual or group violence) or due to exposure to natural disasters (e.g., my having recently lived throu gh four hurricanes in Florida over a short period of time), the need to te ll Â“storiesÂ” to others, as well as to oneself, about what happened and the impl ications is rather pervasive. As a result, an individualÂ’s (or groupsÂ’) sense of self and the world are established through the Â“storiesÂ” they tell o thers and
13 themselves. As the adage goes, Â“Beware of the stories you tell yourself and others for you will be lived by them.Â” (p. 355) Meichenbaum (2006) reported that the stories that peo ple tell themselves can act as an avenue to stress or to growth. He suggested that concentrating on the positivity in a situation and the future was important to individual and group narratives to experience growth (p. 356). The conclusio ns of Meichenbaum suggest the importance of looking at trauma narratives as one way to understand how narrative plays a role in growth. In summary, studies in positive psychology link positive an d negative emotions to adversarial growth. Adversarial growth may result in positive changes to virtues, self-perception, and relationships. Th e stories we tell ourselves and others may encourage adversarial growth. I n the next section, hazards studies, I discuss how we study adversarial growth in natural disasters and what we need to consider when we study peopleÂ’s re sponses to disasters. Adversarial Growth and Hazards Studies In this section, I first discuss studies of posttraumatic gro wth. Next, I consider studies of mental health and preparedness that involve adversarial growth following natural disasters. Hazards studies include social science investigations of disaste rs and research regarding the policy aspects of disasters. Numerou s social science studies focus on the trauma side of natural disasters, but few study adversarial growth and interpersonal communication from natural di sasters or consider introducing policies that might encourage adversarial gr owth. Like Norris (2001), I
14 believe that we are not in need of Â“more research th at establishes only that severely exposed disaster victims develop psychological diso rders or worse that barely exposed disaster victims do notÂ” (p. 12). What w e need are more qualitative research studies that explore how people re cover from disaster and experience positive growth through interpersonal comm unication. We need a holistic perspective of natural disasters. Only then can we provide the best information about preparation, survival, and recovery for disaster survivors. Posttraumatic growth. Existing studies of posttraumatic growth in hazards studies lack focus on adversarial growth and interp ersonal communication in natural disasters. In the article, Â“50,0 00 Disaster Victims Speak: An Empirical Review of the Empirical Literatur e, 1981-2001,Â” Norris (2001) reviews the range, magnitude, and duration of the effects of disasters. She documents risk factors and psychosocial resources after disast er and concludes that we need more information about diverse p opulations, mechanisms and protective factors, family systems and communi ty level processes, representative samples, longitudinal designs of short-term and long term-effects, action research on risk and protective featu res, and collaboration among researchers and practitioners. Studies of disaster survivors document posttraumatic growth in terms of psychological stress but do not explore the nuances of growth. As Norris suggested, more studies on reco very and growth in disasters are needed that do not document what we alrea dy know about survivors.
15 Adversarial growth and interpersonal communication ar e understudied in hazards studies because our focus has been on documenting psy chological symptoms, loss, and problems after a disaster. The Natur al Hazards Center (NHC) was founded in 1976 to serve as a national and international center to share research on the social sciences and policy features o f disaster. The NHC reflects the research literature surrounding disasters. The NHCÂ’s mission is clearly stated on their University of Colorado website: Our mission is to advance and communicate knowledge on ha zards mitigation and disaster preparedness, response, and reco very. Using an all-hazards and interdisciplinary framework, the Center fosters information sharing and integration of activities among researchers, practitioners, and policy makers from around the world; supports and conducts research; and provides educational opportunities for the next ge neration of hazards scholars and professionals. (Natural Hazards Center, 2010a ) By including Â“recoveryÂ” from disasters in their mission, t he NHC can provide a vehicle for studying adversarial growth if researchers in clude adversarial growth as part of recovery. However, in a search of the studie s available through the NHC website, I did not find any qualitative or quant itative studies that specifically explored adversarial growth, and only a few studies of posttraumatic stress and growth. One study listing posttraumatic growth as a key term discu ssed the impact of Hurricane Ivan and was conducted through a mail surve y (Picco & Martin, 2006). They examined the economic, social, and psychologi cal effects on the
16 residents at Orange Beach, Alabama after Hurricane Ivan Picco and Martin (2006) concluded that high levels of psychological stress a nd social difficulties were still being experienced eight months after Hurrica ne Ivan made landfall, even though residents were highly satisfied with the he lp they received from local, state, and federal organizations in recovering f rom the hurricane. This study documents understandable loss and tragedy after a hurricane, but it is not helpful in understanding adversarial growth. Another study examined psychological functioning among students at the University of El Salvador following two earthquakes wi thin two months (Sattler, 2002a). Questionnaires were distributed four weeks after the second earthquake This study mentioned the importance of understanding ho w culture may impact findings of natural disaster studies from different coun tries. Understanding culture and disasters is important but no mention of growth was made in this study. A study of terrorism looked at resilience, psychological d istress, posttraumatic growth, and social support after the Sept ember 11 th attacks on the United States (Sattler, 2002b) through a questionna ire administered to 414 college students attending one of three colleges in Manh attan, Queens, and Garden City, New York. Sattler examined symptoms of a cute stress disorder that typically affect survivors for two days to four weeks aft er a trauma. He noted most of the people in the September 11 th study described posttraumatic growth or resiliency in self, relationships, and life view. Th is study focused on the psychological aspects of stress and growth. What is missing is a look at the place
17 of interpersonal communication in adversarial growth. W e need studies that document how growth might occur within a communicative context. In the published proceedings of a Natural Hazards Cente r workshop session, Sattler, the author of the two studies mentione d above, noted that positive responses to natural disasters are frequent (Na tural Hazards Center, 2001). He reported that these reactions include Â“incre ased self-respect; a greater sense of resiliency; new friendships; and a reassessment of values, priorities, and life goalsÂ” (Natural Hazards Center, 2001, p. 1). However, suggestions made at the workshop proposed assistance only for individuals ex periencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Natural Hazards Cent er, 2001). No provision was made to encourage individuals who did not exhibit PTSD symptoms in positive responses to disasters, even though o ne participant stated Â“no one is untouched during a disasterÂ” (Natural Hazard s Center, 2001, p. 1). The concentration in posttraumatic studies appears to be o n helping those people with PTSD. People without PTSD symptoms are l eft to deal with disasters as best as they can without any guidance. The research studies currently listed on the NHC Web site cover important problems of disaster that need to be addressed but few co ntain any mention of aspects of positive growth after disaster. A perusal of t he 204 quick response grants that were issued from 1986-2009 by the NHC (Nat ural Hazards Center, 2010b) reveals a number of interesting topics, includin g social capital (Ritchie & Gill, 2007), healthcare professionals (Banks, Richards, & Shah, 2006), pets
18 (Irvine, 2006), children (Peek &Fothergill, 2006; Fot hergill & Peek, 2006), and looting myths (Barsky, Trainor, & Torres, 2006). These studies are important and contribute valuable in sight into hazards studies and considered together provide a broad view of the issues that have been studied regarding disasters, but they are only pie ces of a natural disaster. The lack of studies in adversarial growth at the NHC hig hlights the issue that adversarial growth is understudied in hazards studies. Existing studies of posttraumatic growth outside of the N HC are similar in nature. The focus is on PTSD and psychological symptoms (se e Acierno et al., 2007; Aderibigbe, Bloch, & Pandurangi, 2003; Cieslak et al., 2009; Cryder et al., 2006; Galea, Tracy, Norris, & Coffey, 2008; Jeney-Gam mon & Daugherty, 1993; La Greca, Silverman, & Vernberg, 1996; McLaughlin e t al., 2009; Neria, Nandi, & Galea, 2008; Sattler et al., 2002; Weems et al., 200 7; Yesilyaprak, Kisac, & Sanlier, 2007). A holistic perspective of natural disaste rs that includes a focus on adversarial growth and the place of interpersonal commu nication does not exist in hazards studies. We need studies that examine how adv ersarial growth can be experienced in a natural disaster and what might be do ne to encourage it. Mental health. Studies in mental health and natural disasters suggest a relationship between adversarial growth and mental we llness. Kessler, Galea, Jones, and Parker (2006) compared suicidal ideation in H urricane Katrina survivors who had experienced adversarial growth with t hose survivors who did not experience growth. They found that survivors who h ad experienced growth
19 had less suicidal ideation because of an increased faith i n their capability to reconstruct their lives and newly found personal strength s: It is noteworthy that the indicators of post-traumatic growth were not strongly related to our estimates of mental illness, which means that a great many survivors of Katrina are, understan dably, depressed by their losses and anxious about their futur e despite experiencing post-traumatic personal growth. However, t he suicidality often associated with these syndromes in the ge neral population is much lower among people in the post-Katr ina sample who were able to develop a belief in their ability to rebuild their life and a perception of inner strength in the wake of the hurricane. (Kessler et al., 2006, p. 936) They also found that suicidal thoughts among the surviv ors who had experienced growth were counterbalanced by protective factors such as Â“ self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and perceived social supportÂ” (p. 936) (see also Acierno, Ruggiero, Kilpatrick, Resnick, & Galea, 2006). Finding t hese protective factors is encouraging to the study of adversarial growth because Kessler et al. noted that the causal processes that underlie this finding presumabl y involve Â“positive orientations towards the future that provide psycholog ical scaffolding that protects against the suicidality often associated with ex treme distressÂ” (p. 936). Understanding that a natural disaster may encourage po sitive emotions that in turn may encourage mental wellness is importan t to adversarial growth. Kessler et al. (2006) suggested we examine how public m edia might support
20 positive emotions. Although using public media is impor tant, it is disappointing that interpersonal networks are not considered for rese arch in this area. Still, Kessler et al. suggested exploring what role personal g rowth may play in offsetting suicidal thoughts. In a later study of Hurricane Katrina survivors, Kessler et al. (2008) found that mental illness as a result of the hurricane remains widespread among the affected population nearly two years after Katrina. K essler et al. (2008) suggested that Â“unresolved hurricane-related stressesÂ” accou nted for increases in serious mental illness (89.2%), post-traumatic stress di sorder (31.9%), and suicidality (61.6%) (p. 374). Mental health is a serious issue in natural disasters. W e need to understand how adversarial growth may encourage menta l wellness in natural disasters. Studies indicated that the impact of mental health following a natural disaster is greater for some people than for others. Pr otective factors can encourage growth and mental wellness after a disaster an d further research is needed in this area. Knack, Chen, Williams, and JensenCampbell (2006) suggest that studying disasters may provide answers to imp ortant questions about survival and recovery. Preparedness. Studies of emergency preparedness suggest the importance of studying the role of interpersonal commu nication and adversarial growth in preparation for and evacuation prior to na tural disasters. We know that disasters can tear apart the network of support from fam ilies and friends and that social support is important to adversarial growth (Adeol a, 1999; see also social
21 networks, Kaniasty & Norris, 1995b; Sattler & Kaiser, 2 000). Our emergency preparedness programs do not offer a method to protec t our social resources even though, as Norris (2001) suggests, social and emotio nal support networks are essential to recovery after disaster and must, as mu ch as possible, remain in place. Some recent qualitative studies have reported on prepa redness and hurricane evacuation, and the role of emotions and socia l support. Elder et al. (2007) explored evacuation before Hurricane Katrina i n a population of African Americans. The findings indicate four major themes in p articipantsÂ’ decisions to evacuate or not: (1) perceived susceptibility, including optimism about t he outcome because of riding out past hurricanes at home and religi ous faith; (2) perceived severity of the hurricane because of inconsistent evacuation orders; (3) barriers because of financial constraints and neighborhood crime; and (4) perceived racism and inequities. (p. S12 4) Elder et al. concluded that disaster preparedness organi zations need to take these issues into account when preparing the community for a disaster. In our desire to protect people, we often overlook the existin g network of beliefs and values that people rely on that could be tapped for soci al support, including religious faith. Understanding the connection between evacuation and int erpersonal networks is important to emergency preparedness programs. Eisenman, Cordasco, Asch, Golden, and Glik (2007) found that social support played a
22 strong role in the decision to evacuate. They report t hat participantÂ’s Â“strong ties to extended family, friends, and community groups infl uenced other factors affecting evacuation, including transportation, access to shelter, and perception of evacuation messagesÂ” (p. S109). Interpersonal networ ks both helped and delayed evacuation choices. They concluded that offering transportation and shelter would not help low income people or minority communities make better disaster plans because of the significant connections between families and interpersonal networks. Social networks could be used for su pport if we knew more about how people relied on them and how to enco urage social networks. Studies of preparedness suggest there is a need to under stand how adversarial growth and interpersonal communication in fluence coping styles in preparedness. Hendersen, Roberto, and Yamo (2010) studied older adu lts and their preparedness before a disaster and their coping sty les after the disaster. The findings of their study indicate that Â“positive thinking, modified thinking, staying busy, and spiritualityÂ” helped them cope with preparing for a disaster (p. 48). Benight, Ironson, and Durham (1999) suggest that Â“hurricane coping selfefficacyÂ” was related to optimism and social support (p. 379) (see also, collective efficacy, Benight, Swift, Sanger, Smith, & Zeppelin, 1999; posttraumatic growth, Cieslak et al., 2009; coping, Glass, Flory, Hankin, Kloos & Turecki, 2009). Adversarial growth and interpersonal networks are over looked in preparedness programs. A new development in preparati on for natural disaster and emergency preparedness is the program TsunamiReady, Â“a voluntary, community-basedÂ” program that derives from the Nationa l Weather ServiceÂ’s
23 StormReady project (Natural Hazards Observer, Septemb er 2005). FloridaÂ’s first TsunamiReady community is Indian Harbour Beach on Flor idaÂ’s east coast. This program appears to be an excellent example of emergen cy preparedness except for one missing ingredient, concern for interpersonal communication. The plan does not offer preparation for interpersonal networks before disaster strikes or a plan for safeguarding fragile social resources after disa ster. Thus the program does not sustain interpersonal networks that may offer su pport for adversarial growth. Sattler and Kaiser (2000) describe what could be done to maintain and develop interpersonal networks before and after disaster s: Disaster preparation programs might encourage citizens t o develop informal neighborhood groups that can be prepared to offer assistance in the aftermath of disaster. Intervention efforts might encourage survivors in collective self-help efforts, whereby families, neighbor s, and others in the community help one another. Social support networks also may allow survivors to share their disaster-related experiences with others and serve as a useful means of stress management. (Discussion section, para. 4) Understanding how to encourage and preserve social netw orks is important to preparedness programs and adversarial growth. Adversarial growth in hazards studies is understudied. Mo st studies of posttraumatic growth appear to be linked to PTSD or l oss. Existing studies of experiences and recovery indicate that maintaining int erpersonal networks may be important to mental wellness and preparedness. In ad dition to the quantitative
24 and qualitative studies that suggest social support is im portant to recovery, I suggest we need more qualitative studies to discover the nuances of the place of interpersonal communication in recovery and growth in a natural disaster. Adversarial Growth and Communication Studies Many interpersonal communication studies name supportive communication within interpersonal networks as critical com ponents to getting through traumas, but there is a gap in the literature about interpersonal communication and adversarial growth among natural dis aster survivors. The gap in the research literature is uncharted territory. I could not locate even one study about interpersonal communication and adversarial growth in natural disasters by a communication scholar. Existing communicatio n studies involving natural disasters are mostly concerned with crisis communicati on, media, and organizational communication and have not explored ad versarial growth within an interpersonal communicative context. However, there is a new-found recognition of the valu e of involving communication scholars in weather-related scholarship. For the first time, the National Communication Association (NCA) and the Ameri can Meteorological Society (AMS) co-sponsored a workshop on Â“Integrating Com munication, Weather, and Climate: More Than Just Â‘Talking About th e WeatherÂ’Â” in January 2011.The goal for the workshop was to initiate a partn ership between the AMS and the NCA to explore how they could help one anoth er with the complex issues of climate change and natural hazards. In addition, t hree conferences on weather and communication or social science have solicited papers fo r 2011. The AMS is
25 sponsoring a conference on Weather Warnings and Communi cation that is organized by the AMS Board on Societal Impacts and the Committee on Severe Local Storms. The Natural Hazards Center is planning a graduate and undergraduate student workshop on social or behavioral aspects of hazards or disasters. Finally, the National Center for Atmospheri c Research Societal Impacts Program is holding an interdisciplinary Summer W AS*IS workshop as part of its efforts to integrate social science into mete orological research and practice. In this section, I first discuss studies of crisis and emergency risk communication and the need for more studies in interper sonal communication. Next, I explore studies of social support and examine h ow conducting this type of study in a natural disaster may be helpful to survivo rs and to promoting adversarial growth. Finally, I discuss studies of storytel ling that may be useful to survivors in developing adversarial growth. Crisis and emergency risk communication. Understanding adversarial growth and interpersonal communication may be importan t to crisis and risk communication studies. Crisis communication is concerned with public relations and limiting damage to organizations (Seeger, 2006). Risk communication is primarily concerned with health communication and noti fying the community about risks to their safety (Seeger, 2006). Crisis communi cation and risk communication were merged into an area now often know n as crisis and emergency risk communication in recognition of the signif icance of
26 communication as a continuing process that involves aspects o f both risk and crisis communication (Seeger, 2006). Cole and Fellows (2008) explored risk communication fail ure in a case study of Hurricane Katrina postdisaster. They studied wha t was known about the risk, what was communicated about the risk, and what was th e response to that communication. Thousands of people in the city of New Orleans lost their lives because they did not heed the message about risk that disa ster planners and others attempted to convey to them. Cole and Fellows reported that risk communication must be accepted by individuals in order to be acted on to save lives. Perhaps an understanding of the role of interpe rsonal communication and adversarial growth would provide insight into how peo ple discuss risk communication messages among themselves. Venette (2008) conducted a study of risk communication t hrough an examination of emergency communication messages about Hur ricane Katrina that appeared in the Biloxi Sun Herald the most widely read newspaper in the area. He wondered why people didnÂ’t evacuate after reading th e articles in the paper about the forthcoming hurricane. He found that they didnÂ’t think Hurricane Katrina would be a problem. The Sun Herald had compared Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Camille in 1969, which was one of the worst st orms ever to hit their area. Why didnÂ’t they heed the message to evacuate? Be cause the Sun Herald mentioned that Hurricane Camille had caused few deaths and quoted people who did not evacuate and had survived Camille. Theref ore, people thought that even though Camille was bad people were okay who had stayed, and based on
27 this understanding, many did not evacuate out of the p ath of Hurricane Katrina. Understanding how people talk about evacuation among o ne another is important to crisis communication. Although existing haz ards studies of evacuation have described the use of interpersonal netwo rks to make the decision to evacuate (Eisenman et al., 2007; Elder et a l., 2007; Taylor et al., 2009), we donÂ’t know the nuances of the interpersonal communication when discussing evacuation. Lachlan and Spence (2007) developed a pyschometric instru ment to measure hazard and outrage after Hurricane Katrina. Hazard and outrage are generally used when composing crisis and risk emergency com munication messages. Hazard refers to the risk involved, either high or low, and outrage is the fear level, either frightening people or reassuri ng them depending on the situation. They reported that using pleas associated with alarm or fright were useful to encourage a community to take action against a hazard but the most important factor was to keep the outrage and fear at m anageable levels so people could still function and take action. No suggestion of positive growth was included in crisis and risk emergency communications. Crisis and risk communicators employ a taxonomy of disasters that indicates what type of communication is effective for a specific situation such as a hurricane, tornado, food borne illness, etc. It makes s ense to have a strategic plan for communication in a disaster but these plans nee d to provide for interpersonal communication networks, which may be helpfu l to get to the heart of the decision making process about safety and adversarial growth.
28 Understanding interpersonal communication and adversari al growth may contribute to crisis and risk communication studies. Crisis an d risk communication messages are meant to secure the safety and su rvival of people in disasters. What is missing from these studies is the focu s on adversarial growth and the nuances of the interpersonal relationsh ip and supportive communication within that relationship that may contri bute to hearing and acting on the public message engendered by crisis and risk communi cations. Thus, it makes sense to examine studies of social support within i nterpersonal relationships in a natural disaster. Social support. Social support in a disaster may be important to recov ery and adversarial growth. Social support is constructed thr ough interpersonal communication and specific behavioral actions (Segrin, 200 3). Social support includes emotional support through supportive communicati ve messages (Burleson, 2003). Supportive communicative interactions are characterized as communication in the form of listening, sympathy, and a ffection by individuals that want to help other people that they have ident ified as needing help (Burleson, 2009; Burleson & MacGeorge, 2002). Understan ding social support is important to planning for natural disasters because Norr is (2001) found that families and friends are more often used to soothe a nd console than are medical professionals. Often there is a stigma involved with see king help from mental health professionals, which increases stress. Studies of social support are also important to disaster planning because the use of social support encourages people to work throug h and perhaps find
29 some relief from stress-provoking situations (Burleson & Goldsmith, 1998). Social support provides psychological, mental, and physical benef its. Burleson (2003) reported that people with compassionate societal systems a re healthier physically than individuals who do not have support (Bu rleson, 2003). Social support is important to individual health and interpe rsonal relational welfare (Burleson, 2003). Communication scholars have not focused on social support in natural disasters; most of the research has been done in hazards st udies. However, communication scholars have conducted many studies of social support (e.g., Albrecht & Adelman, 1987; Burleson, 2003; Burleson, 20 09; Burleson, Albrecht, & Sarason, 1994; Burleson & Goldsmith, 1998; Feng, 20 09; Goldsmith, 2004; Goldsmith & Brashers, 2008; Goldsmith & Fitch, 1997; Mo tley, 2008; Segrin, 2003; Vangelisti & Perlman, 2006) that may suggest some of the nuances of social support and that may provide a background from wh ich to study interpersonal communication and adversarial growth in co njunction with natural disasters. Segrin (2003) reported that the usefulness of social sup port from friends and family can differ over a life span. He suggested that age and psychosocial problems play a role in social support and that general ly older adults may not receive social support from as many sources as younger peop le do. Social support from friends was important to all ages. Family support was critical to young adults experiencing psychosocial problems. Segrin fo und that older adults
30 were able to maintain well-being despite having fewe r sources of social support than younger adults. Social support is important not only for adults but also to children and adolescents. Not everyone understands how to offer social support, but it can be a learned behavior and can be improved. Clark, MacGeor ge, and Robinson (2008) suggested that adults can help children and te enagers understand how to support their peers. Adults such as teachers, parents, and others should: Encourage offers of companionship as a response to distr essed peers, suggest sympathy and advice as alternative or supplementa l strategies, help children and adolescents understand why minimizat ion strategies are not particularly comforting (and why optimism may not be viewed as caring), and, perhaps, facilitate companionate interact ion when alerted to child or adolescent distress. (Clark et al., 2008, p. 340 ) These are valuable strategies to encourage social suppor t that may be useful in a natural disaster and may nurture adversarial growth Studies of supportive communication are promising to t he study of adversarial growth. Supportive communication often incl udes advice (Feng, 2009). Understanding the components of advice and why i t may be accepted or rejected is important in a natural disaster and to adve rsarial growth. Feng (2009) reported that offering advice included the following (in this order): providing emotional support, engaging in problem inquiry and a nalysis, and offering advice. Feng suggested that advice was evaluated to be of more value when preceded by emotional support and problem inquiry and analysi s. However, there are
31 problems in soliciting, getting, and offering advice. Goldsmith and Fitch (1997) found that advice can be considered supportive or intrusi ve as well as truthful or helpful, and l ooking for and accepting advice may encourage a high opi nion of the person offering advice and thankfulness to that per son. Giving emotional support is a key step to having advice accepted Therefore, it is important to understand how emotiona l support is given and received within the context of supportive communication and adversarial growth. Burleson (2003) defines emotional support as a demonstr ation of attention, involvement, affection, and awareness of people when t hey are upset. Emotional support is often the support most sought after in a close relationship and without this support, some relationships flounder (Burleson, 20 03). Burleson (2003) also suggested that emotional support i nvolves assisting others when they are stressed through empathic listening He reported that listening validates a person and is helpful in bolsterin g him or her through difficult times. It makes sense that if people are adequately supp orted emotionally in a close relationship then they are able to handle difficu lt issues and be optimistic in their viewpoint (Burleson, 2003). Encouraging positive emotions is important to adversarial growth and may be fostered through emotio nal supportive communicative interactions. In addition, communication scholars have conducted sever al studies of social support and interpersonal communication within th e context of natural disasters. Honeycutt, Nasser, Banner, Mapp, and DuPont (2 008) examined coping in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by studying the diverse ways college
32 students experienced negative emotions. In a survey of 2881 participants, they found that this often depended on gender, ethnic backgr ound, whether students were transferred to Louisiana State University from N ew Orleans, and whether they had a functioning cell phone and were able to use email within their social networks. Honeycutt et al. concluded that students who f elt negative emotions often reported a higher level of anxiety when cut of f from their social networks. These students used imagined interactions to reduce stre ss (p. 229). MacGeorge, Samter, Feng, Gillihan, and Graves (2007) studied emotional support in 511 college students after the terrorist att acks on 911. The students were from an eastern university outside of New York Ci ty without direct exposure to ground zero. They explored whether emotional sup port received from communication with others would be helpful to lessen the effects of stress from terrorism and on psychological health. The students comple ted questionnaires regarding the amount of stress (defined as Â“goal disrup tionÂ”) experienced as a result of terrorism, the amount of emotional support they received, and their degree of psychological health in the first 2 weeks of De cember 2001 (p. 11). MacGeorge et al. found that receiving emotional suppor t tempered the association between goal disruption, depression, and str ess symptoms in people with a lower exposure to disaster. They suggested that p roviding emotional support should be considered a basic communication skill nec essary to recovery from disaster. The findings in their study provide a ba sis to study interpersonal communication and adversarial growth in natural disaster s.
33 In a qualitative study of 114 people conducted within weeks of their evacuation of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Taylor, Priest, Sisco, Banning, and Campbell (2009) looked at how peop le used communication within their interpersonal networks to decide whether t o evacuate from the path of the hurricane. Their interviews revealed that people had Â“extensive stormrelated information,Â” which they obtained from vario us sources as well as what they called Â“background knowledgeÂ” that they obtained f rom experiencing previous storms. In addition to media reports, Taylor e t al. noted that people often relied on information obtained from interperso nal sources (p. 2). They reported that interpersonal networks most often encoura ged people to take steps to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina: When asked directly about the moment they decidedÂ—or we re asked or even orderedÂ—to evacuate, most . specifically cited i nterpersonal sources (such as a telephone call or a visit from a neigh bor or someone from the family coming into their bedroom) as the de ciding factor, and an additional 17% . reported responding to a combi nation of media and interpersonal sources. Less than one-third . cited the media alone. Friends, neighbors, and family often told one another when it was time to evacuate. As one interviewee said, Â“Just neighbors that w as hearing like, the same thing we was hearing: come to the porch, itÂ’s time to leave.Â” Although the person could see water coming in under her door and th rough the walls of her home, it was the comments of her neighbors that made t he difference in her
34 decision to leave (Taylor et al., p.12). They conclude that evacuation is often a collective behavior and relies on interpersonal networks: Conventional media reports, while they can communicate crucial and effective markers of storm severity, including the stateme nts of official opinion leaders, are clearly not enough to activate b ehavior in all cases. We also need to consider whether organized efforts to alert people on an individual basisÂ—whether through old-fashioned telepho ne trees, knocking on doors block to block, acting through churches or neighb orhood associations, or issuing emergency instructions through new media like Twitter to immediately contact friends, family, and n eighborsÂ—should be explored. (p. 19) Interpersonal networks and social bonds may help people n egotiate the decision to evacuate prior to a natural disaster; they may also be related to adversarial growth. Seeking encouragement and assistance through interpersona l networks may be universal, and those networks may be the first sou rces of support sought after a disaster. Therefore, it is important to underst and how people use social support in relation to recovery and adversarial growth in natural disasters. What we need are communication studies that examine the re lationship between interpersonal communication and adversarial growth in a natural disaster. Social support factors and interpersonal networks in natural disa sters have implications for survivors in recovery from disasters. We need to con tribute to the studies of social support in disasters through the lens of interperson al communication.
35 Storytelling. Studies of family storytelling are promising to recovery and adversarial growth in a natural disaster. Storytelling is often useful as emotional support to uphold the family during a disaster. Tellin g and listening to stories of how the family survived tough times in the past may co ntribute to the persona of a victim or survivor in a disaster. Family storytelling is often used to connect the family to the past (Hoffman, 1981). It is the Â“social glueÂ” that holds the family together during adversity (Hoffman, 1981, p. 40). By lund (2003) believes family stories can educate, motivate, amuse, and recall events. Stories about family members who have survived hard ti mes and even grown from the experience can inspire and encourage ind ividuals through the mental, emotional, and physical trials a natural disaste r brings because family stories communicate the essence of Â“esteem, blueprints, ide als, warnings and probabilitiesÂ” (Stone, 1988, p. 5). Storytelling can be beneficial both psychologically and physically (Koenig Kellas & Trees, 200 6). Stories can also offer a tactic used in the past to carry on through di fficult times (Stone). Thus, family storytelling can encourage family members throug h difficult times. One tornado survivor told me that her story of survival wa s related by her sister to their niece who was hunkered down in a bath tub with her cell phone during a tornado. The niece said the story helped her cope with the tornado because she thought that if my aunt can survive a tornado then I can too. Shellenbarger (2005) suggests that self-worth and hardiness in childr en may be related to the family past and that children may learn what they nee d to do to survive hard times from family stories.
36 Talking to family members during difficult or stressful times such as waiting out a tornado in a bath tub is important to recovery after a disaster. This important communication can calm individuals during a st orm. From my own experience of seeking refuge with my husband and two sma ll children in a shower stall during a tornado while camping, I know tha t communicating with one another helped me stay calm. Lyons, Mickelson, Sullivan, and Coyne (1998) suggest that Â“communal coping, a cooperative solving process, is endemic to notions of social integration, interdependence and close relationships, and may underlie the resilience of families and other social un its dealing with stressful life eventsÂ” (p. 579). A natural disaster may disrupt communication within the family, but this does not mean the family doesnÂ’t have the potential t o discover new or existing connections to one another. Hoffman (1981) suggests famil y chaos and turmoil offers the chance within the family to realize its ow n curative powers. Storytelling may help because stories can construct the uniqueness of t he family for family members (Langellier & Peterson, 2006a). And therein lays the power of family storytellingÂ—creating the familyÂ’s identity through the ir strengths and values. Maguire (1998) suggests that Â“personal storytelling has th e power to invest our lives with more meaning, connect us more vitally with others, develop our creativity, strengthen our humor, increase our courage a nd confidence and render our lives more memorableÂ” (pp. 13-30). Koenig Kellas and Trees (2006) believe that family t eamwork in storytelling leads to more contentment in family rela tions. This is not always true,
37 as families may disagree about the story and conflict can arise. Families or some family members may also have an agenda that is hurtful to one or more family members, whether through subconscious intent or purposef ul design. Family stories can be positive or negative but storytell ing is one way of Â“ doing family,Â” as Langellier and Peterson (2006a, p. 100) put it. Listening to family stories about postdisaster recovery may provide in sight into adversarial growth: Narrative performance theory provides a way to underst and both the empirical and the eidetic variability of family commun ication practices. Empirical descriptions of family storytelling locate var iations in what particular stories are told, how they are told, and w hat identities they constitute. Eidetic descriptions of family storytelling l ocate variations in the normative and normalizing context that regulates what kinds of stories, types of storytelling, and possibilities for identity an d agency can be realized in a particular situation. (p. 100) The performativity in storytelling exposes participants and researchers to the continuous flow of story within the familyÂ—a story that is in constant flux and dependent on the family identity outside of and with in the story. Family stories affect family members in one way or anot her. Stone (1988) says, Â“Those who say America is land of rootless nomads wh o travel light, uninstructed by memory and family ties have missed part of the evidenceÂ” (p. 6). Family ties are encouraged or discouraged by stories imp ortant to family members. Family stories may have a healing nature, but it is also true that family
38 stories have the power to hurt, whether deliberately or not. More qualitative studies need to be conducted to understand what a healin g story might be in a natural disaster. Studies of family storytelling suggest that stories may be a powerful tool to help families navigate recovery and adversarial growth in a natural disaster. Constructing a postdisaster family story of recovery and growth may encourage adversarial growth. More studies are necessary to under stand how family storytelling may provide a vehicle for some families th at will help them on the road to recovery and adversarial growth. Research Questions Studies in positive psychology, hazards, and communicatio n provide fertile ground to begin a study of adversarial growth followi ng a disaster. Current studies contain pieces of adversarial growth but more re search is needed to understand the nuances of how adversarial growth might occur during and following disasters. Qualitative studies of adversarial growth related to i nterpersonal communication in natural disasters are lacking in the rese arch literature. Therefore, it is important to conduct a qualitative stu dy to understand the place of interpersonal communication in adversarial growth in na tural disasters. A qualitative study may unfold the story of adversarial growth. I examine the factors that encourage or confirm people in their capacities to grow from disasters. I investigate three research que stions: 1. What is it like to experience a hurricane?
39 2. How do people cope with a hurricane? 3. What factors contribute to adversarial growth after a hurricane? Assuming people can experience transformational growth from a natural disaster, this study examines how we might support people in this process. Summary This chapter discussed the importance of and the need f or studies of adversarial growth through an examination of studies i n positive psychology, hazards, and communication. I reviewed the development and the viability of adversarial growth through studies of emotions, virtue s, self-perception, relationships, and stories in positive psychology. I discusse d studies of posttraumatic growth and the need to focus on adversari al growth and examined studies of mental health and preparedness in natural d isasters. I described the lack of studies in adversarial growth and interpersonal communication in natural disasters and the need to look through the lens of commun ication in qualitative studies to discover the nuances of adversarial growth. I e xamined studies of crisis communication, social support, and storytelling in va rious traumas and disasters and discovered a connection and the groundwork fo r a study in adversarial growth. Adversarial growth is an important topic to study in con nection with natural disasters because world wide more than 1-billion people have survived natural disasters (Cossetta & Brackett, 2005, pp. A1, A6). Survivo rs of natural disasters not only often suffer the loss of their homes but this t rauma can also affect their
40 physical and mental health (Neria, Nandi, & Galea, 20 08). Thus, it makes sense to study how people can recover and even grow from nat ural disasters. In the next chapter, I explain the methodology for t his study, including participants, interviews, interview questions, and anal ysis. Chapter 3 presents the results of my narrative analysis and describes each fa milyÂ’s experience of being in a hurricane. In chapter 4, I report the them atic analysis of the interviews with the participants, organized into time periods: be fore, during, and after a hurricane. Chapter 5 explores the factors that contribut e to adversarial growth. In chapter 6, I describe the potential benefits, limitati ons, and implications of this study.
41 CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY In this chapter, I describe the method, participants, in terviews, interview questions, and analysis of this study. Method I employed a qualitative approach in this study, which Lofland (1971) says is appropriate for research questions such as Â“What kinds o f things are going on here? What are the forms of this phenomenon? What var iations do we find in this phenomenon?Â” (p. 13). I studied what it is like to surv ive a hurricane, how to cope with the aftermath, what worked well and what didnÂ’t whether the possibility of growth was experienced or not, and where interpersonal communication fit into this mix. In this study, I hoped to discover the nuances of how h urricane survivors might experience adversarial growth. Thus, I chose to use two types of interviews: (a) the narrative interview and (b) the family group interview. The narrative interview was used with each participant. Th e family group interview was offered to each family, following the conclusion of the narrative interviews. Most interviews obtain Â“stories, tales, gossip, anecdotes and parables,Â” but what distinguishes narrative interviews is that they get the Â“whole storyÂ” as compared to Â“other types of interviews, which take stori es apart and reassemble
42 the parts for their own analytic purposesÂ” (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002, pp. 179-180). Lindloff and Taylor continue: Â“Narrative is absolutel y central to art, spirituality, community, and a sense of self, and thus encodes human de sire at the deepest levels. Narrative interviews are the earliest known form of in-depth interviewing in the social sciencesÂ” (p. 180). The narrative interview is considered the best form to allow as much of the story as possible to emerge when an understanding of the entire experience is desired (Lindlof & Taylor, 20 02). Thus, the narrative interview was necessary to derive the nuances of survivin g a hurricane. The narrative interview comes from the spoken traditio ns in civilization and uses dialogue as a way of yielding thought-provoking st ories (Langellier, 1989). Consisting of an interactive dialogue between the inte rviewer and the participant, the object of the narrative interview is to elicit the participantÂ’s story (Langellier, 1989; Lindlof & Taylor, 2002). The interviewer asks th e participant open-ended questions in an informal manner so the participant may choose to answer or not without any penalty. The participantÂ’s story emerges th rough the conversational interaction between the participant and the interview er. The narrative interview gains and depicts the participantÂ’s story through storytel ling (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002). The stories resulting from the use of the narra tive interview are generally complex with many layers, which allows the researcher to s tudy the stories for similar and discordant discourses (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002) Van Maanen (1988) suggests that some stories can be simila r to impressionist paintings and can be called impressionist tale s. Stories as impressionist tales may capture a scene that depicts a par ticular event in so
43 lifelike a way that readers are drawn in to take part in the experience and, as Van Maanen says, Â“work out its problems and puzzles as they unf oldÂ” (p. 103). In the Healing Art of Storytelling Richard Stone (1996) says, Â“story may be the one thread that connects us to more expansive realitiesÂ” (p. 26). The narrative interview allows stories to unfold that, when written by the interviewer, may connect the reader not only to the experience of the hurricane but also lead the reader to draw conclusions on the best way to cope with a hurricane. Stories and dialogue are necessary to connect us to the experience o f surviving a natural disaster and adversarial growth. Narrative interviews are less ordered, and, as an inte rviewer, my role was to allow the story to be told rather than to direct the story (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002). I received from my participants a series of narratives th at were unguided and unstructured, and that teach us Â“something about a parti cular scene, person or eventÂ” with a vocabulary of Â“ambiguity, change, adven ture, improvisation and processÂ” (Ellis, 2004, p. 360). I hope that the stories g ained from the narrative interviews provide a format for the reader to underst and what it is like to survive a hurricane. Following the narrative interview, I intended to of fer the family group interview to all six families but two of the particip ants were singles, one family declined, and another family was unable to participate due to location. Only two families were interested in participating in it and on ly immediately after the narrative interview. The family group interview was an informal group interview that allowed the families to give specific recommendati ons about how to survive
44 and cope with a hurricane. The family group intervi ew is important because it encourages information and ideas that are shared as a result of a group of people talking with one another (Lindlof & Taylor, 2 002). In the family group interview ,I was looking for a Â“complementary interacti onÂ” in which participants agree on and interpret their viewpoints, while, perh aps, adding observations and recollections to the topic (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002, p. 182). Generally, the interviewer in the family group gently encourages gro up members to express their opinions while maintaining a friendly atmospher e of goodwill (Lindlof & Taylor, 2002), and I attempted to do this in these fa mily groups. I provided the family group interview as an opportunity for family members to clarify issues together and to offer advice to families coping with t he aftermath of a hurricane. Participants The participants in this study are survivors of hurricane s and their extended family members. Initially, I conceived of fa milies as involving two or more people, but I found my description of family chan ged to allow the inclusion of some single individuals who wished to participate and who drew their families into the interviews through their narratives. Hurrican e survivors are people who lived in a geographic area that was affected when a hu rricane came ashore. This study was open to participants regardless of race, gender, age, ethnic background, health status, or occupation. I was pleased wit h the variety and range of race, gender, age, ethnic background, health status, and occupation of the participants in this study.
45 The participants are from Polk County in central Flori da, Palm Beach County in southeast Florida, and a barrier island in M artin County on the southeast coast of Florida. I interviewed six families t otaling thirteen people. I interviewed members of what I will call the Brown, Sm ith, Allen, White, Dean, and Thomas families. The participants ranged in from age 14 to 76 years at the time of the interviews in 2008. All of the participants exp erienced at least two and some even three hurricanes within a 6-week period in th e fall of 2004. Finding participants was challenging. I include informat ion about finding the participants, as the nuances of surviving a hurricane began to be revealed to me during the process of identifying appropriate resea rch participants. I contacted Bob Nixon, the Active Leader for Katrina fo r the Red Cross, and met with him at the Tampa Bay, Florida Chapter of the A merican Red Cross to discuss participants for this study. Mr. Nixon indicated th at due to privacy issues, the Red Cross is unable to identify their clients. Howev er, he directed me to outreach groups that assist the American Red Cross, such as Catholic Charities and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Both groups adver tised in the St. Petersburg Times (Â“Help,Â” 2007) as being available to help peopl e displaced from Hurricane Katrina through the Katrina Aid Today Program. I ma de an initial contact with Sheila Lopez at Catholic Charities to determine their openness to this project. Although they were in general open to participating in this project, unfortunately, the files were closed and archived at Catholic Chariti es and due to budget restraints, Ms. Lopez did not have enough people to re trieve and re-open the files. Ms. Lopez offered two names but the phone numbe r for one was
46 disconnected and the other participant, although perhap s willing to participate, spoke Spanish fluently not English. In a phone call with the potential participant, I realized language would be a barrier, as I do not sp eak fluent Spanish. I then contacted the Florida Long Term Recovery Organ izations, an umbrella organization that includes over 50 groups tha t are involved in helping hurricane survivors in Florida. Formed to help Florid ians with long term recovery from disasters, it is overseen by the Volunteer Florida Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that follows the mandates of t he Governor of Florida regarding community service and volunteerism. The list o f the Florida Long Term Recovery Organizations can be found at the Florida Disa ster Recovery Fund (2005). I began calling the groups on the Florida Long Term D isaster Recovery list. Each phone call was met with an enthusiastic response to my query for participants for this study. The responses ranged from Â“Gr eat idea but I donÂ’t have any active cases; call this person or groupÂ” to Â“DonÂ’ t you want someone who really suffered or lost everything?Â” I began to l earn that people place stock on how much they think a person has suffered according to their standards. After twelve phone calls to individuals and groups in central Florida, each phone call leading me from one locale to the next, as if on a tr easure hunt, I spoke with Ms. Alice Spivey, director of Rebuild Polk County After Di saster (RPAD), who was very interested in the project. RPAD is a part of Rebuilding Together of Polk County. Rebuilding Together of Polk County began in September 2004 as t he Long-Term Recovery
47 Committee in Polk County, Florida and became incorpora ted in 2005 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports low income homeowners in Polk County (Rebuild Polk County After Disaster, 2010). Ge nerally, RPAD provides education and recovery programs for disaster in Polk Cou nty, and in this case, RPAD provided repair and re-building services to homeo wners whose homes were damaged in the 2004 hurricanes. RPAD is connected with the Volunteer Florida Foundatio n and Florida Disaster Recovery Fund and is the Florida Department of Financial ServicesÂ’ official community organization in Polk County for the My Safe Florida Home (MSFH) program for low-income homeowners (Rebuild Po lk, 2010). The MSFH program provides the installation of hurricane shutters for free to qualified homeowners (Rebuild Polk, 2010). In my telephone conversation with Ms. Spivey, I explain ed my doctoral project on adversarial growth and natural disasters wit h an emphasis on interpersonal communication. Ms. Spivey saw a need for m ore qualitative studies on hurricane survivors, and requested that I send her a letter explaining the study so she could check out my credentials and this study. After receiving my letter and engaging in more discussio n with me, Ms. Spivey assigned Ms. Laurie Davis, Recovery Program Coord inator from RPAD, to find participants for this study. Initially, Ms. Dav is, an enthusiastic individual, began to read case histories to determine who might f it into my study guidelines. This took more time than I might have wished because she was busy with other work and had to read through the files that were thick with papers. She gave me
48 the name of an individual that had been helpful in the past for newspaper interviews. I was concerned that the potential participa nts might be too handpicked. I discussed this with the chair of my committee, who suggested I ask Ms. Davis to pick possible participants randomly. In the mean time, I called the potential participant she had identified and explained the study in as much detail as the person was i nterested in, and asked whether she wished to be included in the study. My plan was that if a person indicated that he or she wanted to participate in the study, I would attempt to arrange a meeting at the personÂ’s convenience. The pho ne call was not encouraging, as the person responded, Â“IÂ’m near 80 year s and IÂ’m not talking no more. I read the Bible and my family takes care of me. IÂ’ll pray for you and you pray me.Â” I began to learn that not everyone wants t o discuss surviving a hurricane or adversarial growth. Due to time constraints and my request to pick the file s randomly, Ms. Davis began to select files without extensively reading t he clientÂ’s case history, contacting them for permission for me to call them. I v erified with Ms. Spivey that Ms. Davis picked the files randomly and did not describe t he project as adversarial growth. Ms. Spivey told me that Ms. Davis a sked the potential participant if they would be willing to have me conta ct them. During this time, I contacted a potential participant that I was referred to when calling one of the Florida Long Term Recovery Organizations. Because I a m protecting this participantÂ’s privacy, I prefer not to name the organi zation, though I shared this information with my committee chair. This individual w as a hurricane survivor in
49 Florida to whom I have given the pseudonym, Jane Smit h. Ms. Smith was enthusiastic about participating in my study and asked to be included. Although single, her parents, who were also hurricane survivors, l ived a few hours away from her in Florida. She agreed to contact her paren ts for permission for me to get in touch with them. After a few weeks without hear ing from Ms. Smith, I emailed her. When I didnÂ’t receive a response, I then called her and left a message. Six weeks later, I received a phone call from h er. She had been ill but was now fine. Her parents were willing to participate and were waiting to hear from me. Over a period of 5 weeks due to her work load and limi ted time for my project, Ms. Davis identified eight families that had g iven her permission for me to contact them. One family, although willing to partici pate, had to bow out of the study the day before the interview due to health rea sons. Another family never returned my calls. That left me with six families from Ms. Davis willing to participate in the study. I set up interview dates wit h each family. Of those six families, one was an elderly couple in Polk County that agreed to the interview, providing I got permission from their adult daughter. The daughter gave permission, and when I arrived on time for the interview, the couple was not at home. I called their daughter, who advised me that her father was a nice person and wanted to please everyone and t his was his way of telling me that he didnÂ’t really wish to participate because, she explained, he had only recently recovered from a nervous breakdown that he suff ered due to the hurricane. She then told me that she worked in an assist ed living center and that
50 they had found an increase in senility and dementia du e to the hurricanes. She advised that I wait as it was beginning to rain and sa id, Â“TheyÂ’ll be home soon because Mama gets nervous when itÂ’s raining and Daddy i s driving.Â” Sure enough they pulled in and invited me into their hom e. I explained the IRB paperwork and said the interview was voluntary and if they had changed their mind that was fine. The gentleman said Â“I donÂ’t belie ve we will participate.Â” I thanked them for their time. This left five families from RPAD willing to participa te in my study and the Smith family that resulted from the referral from on e of the organizations in the Long Term Recovery Group Organization. Ms. Davis and t he referring agency, RPAD, do not know which participants agreed to particip ate in this study. The person who referred Ms. Smith to me from the Florida Long Term Recovery Group Organization does not know that Ms. Smith and he r parents agreed to participate in this study. Participants in this study are known only to the principal investigator. All participants willingly and freely participated in t his study. The participants seemed happy to share their views and hope ful that someone would be helped by this study. Although most participants all owed me to use their real names, I changed all of their names to protect their id entities and privacy, as the Informed Consent document approved by the IRB said I would. I explained the study and the Informed Consent form to each participant and the form was signed before each interview proceeded.
51 The hurricanes that hit these participants occurred in 200 4. All of them had been hit by two and some of them even three hurr icanes within 6 weeks. Most of the participants could not name the hurricane(s) that affected them, understandably so, as I was interviewing them four year s later. After studying the 2004 Atlantic Hurricane Season (National Weather Servi ce, 2010d), I was able to ascertain that the hurricanes involved were Hurricane Ch arley on August 9-14 (Pasch, Brown, & Blake, 2005), Hurricane Frances on Augu st 25-September 8 (Beven II, 2005), and Hurricane Jeanne on September 1 3-28 (Lawrence & Cobb, 2005) making landfall in their geographic area within such a short time period. The National Hurricane Center (National Hurricane Cen ter, 2010d) provides a synoptic history, meteorological statistics, casua lty and damage statistics, and a forecast and warning critique that includ e wind speeds and tracks for each hurricane. These reports confirmed the par ticipantsÂ’ narratives about the impact of the hurricanes on their geographi c areas. The participants are described below, four years after the hurricanes, with their ages at the time of the interviews in 2008. The Brown family. Mrs. Kathy Brown is a 44-year-old single mother of four children who lives in a mobile home in Haines Cit y in Polk County, Florida. Her husband died in 2005, within a year of the storms. Her four children are Sue, age 16; Ann, age 14; and 10-year-old twins. Her home was hit by Charley, Frances, and Jeanne. When she came to RPAD for assistance, sh e had completed a lot of home repairs herself and had been t hrough quite a bit. RPAD assisted her with replacing the front and back doors, pat ching a hole in the floor,
52 repairing a closet, painting, and adding trim work to the floor, walls, and ceilings. Twelve volunteers worked a total of 333 hours on this p roject (L. Davis, personal communication, March 10, 2008). Mrs. Brown said that she was looking forward to particip ating in this project. She mentioned that her grandmother participa ted in an oral history project for a university in Kentucky and liked the thoug ht that she was honoring family tradition by participating in this study. She felt she could contribute to this study and hoped it would help people. The Smith family. Ms. Jane Smith is in her 40s and worked in resource management in Palm Beach County in Florida in 2004 w hen the hurricanes made landfall in there. She volunteered herself and her father, Mr. Smith, age 76, and her stepmother, Mrs. Smith, age 67, to participate in this study when I called the organization she presently works for looking for pot ential participants. She wanted to participate in this study because she felt th at more studies were needed of hurricane survivors. Jane experienced two hurri canes and lost all of her belongings. She tells her story largely from the o ther side of disasters: working to help people recover from disasters as she copes with her losses and helps her family recover. Since the hurricanes, she has mov ed to another county in Florida and now works in disaster recovery. Her parents are retired, and live seasonally in a mode st condominium on a barrier island in Martin County in Florida. The insid e of their condominium received water damage from two hurricanes. They lost t heir kitchen and the
53 carpeting in their living room due to the hurricanes, and they said they were happy to participate and tell their story of surviving the hurricanes. The Allen family. Ms. Beth Allen is a 55-year-old, disabled, single woman, mother, and grandmother who lives in Winter H aven in Polk County, Florida. She has custody of her 12-year-old grandson. At the time of the interview, her grandson was living with his father and was unavailable for the interview. Her roof was damaged during the hurricanes, which caused water damage in her kitchen and to the carpeting in her liv ing room. She applied for assistance with FEMA but received only $1400, which wasn 't enough to repair her roof, so she used it to replace her flooring in or der to prevent mold from spreading. At the time of the interviews, RPAD had hi red a contractor to replace her roof and was in the process of scheduling a volunteer to patch the damaged ceiling in the kitchen. The repair of her roof was comp leted in early April 2008. The White family. Ms. Carol White is a 62-year-old single woman who lives in Eagle Lake in Polk County, Florida in her fam ily home that was built by her father in 1947. She evacuated to her friendÂ’s par entsÂ’ house for the first hurricane. She stayed in her home for the second hurri cane. Her home was severely damaged by the 2004 hurricanes. RPAD replaced her roof, repaired the structure, and replaced the ceiling and insulation thr oughout the house. These repairs were completed in early 2006. She is now under the RPAD mitigation program and is approved to receive free hurricane stor m shutters. Ms. White lives with her cat Rose and is disabled from a recent ca r accident.
54 The Dean family. The Dean family consists of parents, Clay, age 46, and Lara, age 46, and their sons, Scott, age 19, and Tim, age 16. They live in Lake Wales in Polk County, Florida. Lara is disabled and is w heel-chair bound. The Deans evacuated to LaraÂ’s parentsÂ’ house when the hurrica nes arrived in their area. Their mobile home was destroyed by the hurrican es. Clay is building a 3,500 square foot cement block home with the help of fr iends and family on the site of their previous home. RPAD is helping with purch asing materials and providing a few volunteers occasionally. The Thomas family. Ms. Kate Thomas, age 50, a single, disabled, divorced mother of three children, lives in her home i n Lakeland in Polk County in Florida with her son Joe. Joe, age 19, was quite shy and preferred to send messages to me regarding surviving the hurricane through his mother. Her house suffered major roof, electrical, and window damage. Sh e endured many trials and tribulations in having the damage repaired. RPAD pr ovided her a new roof, which was completed in April 2008. Interviews The interviews were conducted at locations preferred b y the participants. I discussed the interview locations with Ms. Spivey, Director of RPAD, and she felt the participants would be most comfortable and able to talk most freely in their homes. All of the participants preferred to be interv iewed in their homes with the exception of the Smith family. Ms. Jane Smith opted fo r a conference room in the office building where she worked. Mr. and Mrs. Smith we re interviewed by telephone due to their time constraints and their bei ng at a more distant location.
55 Initial contact with participants was made by telephone. Most participants required several telephone conversations to decide to participate and settle on a day and time for the interviews. With the exception o f Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who received and returned their informed consent by mail b efore the interview, each participant was given an informed consent form at the time of the interview that told the participants what the research study was about, what process would be used, and what the potential risks and benefits might be The custodial parent of the children (age 12 and older) who were included in this study also signed the informed consent. Most of the interviews were completed in one visit that lasted between one and a half and four hours. In this session, individual p articipants participated in a one-on-one personal narrative interview with me, whi ch consisted of an interactive conversation of open-ended questions centered on their experience of the hurricane. I used both a cassette tape recorder and a digital audiotape recorder at once to record the narrative interviews a nd the family group interviews. I also took notes during these interviews. Th e interview with Chuck and Betty Smith was conducted by telephone because of t heir location. The interview was as similar as possible in length, topics expl ored, and interview questions as the interviews conducted in person. The int erview was recorded with a cassette tape recorder and a digital audiotape r ecorder through the speaker on the telephone. Unfortunately, only two families participated in the family group interview, the Browns and the Deans. The Thomas family declined to participate because
56 KateÂ’s son Joe was too shy and felt he didnÂ’t have any thing to say. The Smith family was unable to get together to participate as a family due to their location. Beth AllenÂ’s grandson was no longer living with her a nd her children declined to participate because they were too busy. Carol White li ved alone and her friends and neighbors were not available. Both the Brown and the Dean families asked to conduct the family group interview immediately af ter the interviews because the information was fresh in their minds. The limited number of families participating in the f amily group interview plus having it immediately after the narrative inter view may have been limitations to this study because there wasnÂ’t time for them to re flect on the interviews or for me to review the transcripts to identify areas for fur ther questioning. The participants felt as if they were on a roll and were e nthusiastic to continue talking within the family group. I found that having the fa mily group interview immediately after the individual interviews to be satisfactory and a natural follow up because the interview was fresh in their minds and mine. The participants and I had talked at length about adversarial growth and recovering fro m a hurricane in the narrative interviews so the family group interview im mediately following was an opportunity for the families to interact with one ano ther regarding these issues. In the family group interview, I brought the family me mbers together to ask them the family group interview questions. Then, I asked if the re was anything they would like to clarify or add as a family. Families eagerly an swered my questions and introduced stories they had not previously mentioned a s individuals.
57 I left the families with their permission to call them if I had any questions and encouraged them to call me if they wanted to add anything. During both the narrative interview and the family group interview, the participants were told they could choose to answer only the questions they wished wi thout any penalty whatsoever. Narrative interviews. I engaged each participant in an interactive narrative interview centered on the hurricane, adversa rial growth, and interpersonal communication with the following question s: Hurricane 1. Tell me your story of surviving the hurricane. 2. Where were you when the hurricane hit? 3. What did you do immediately after the hurricane? 4. What did you lose as a result of the hurricane? Hom e? Job? Family? Friends? School? Neighbors? Community? 5. If you own(ed) a home, are you rebuilding in the area affected by the hurricane? 6. If you did move, are you planning to stay in the new location? Adversarial Growth 1. Describe yourself before and after the hurricane. 2. In your opinion, what good emerged for you and y our family in the aftermath of the hurricane? What bad emerged? 3. Did the hurricane disrupt your path or goal in lif e? Good or bad?
58 4. Can there be personal growth after a disaster? If so, in your opinion what is the best way to recover and possibly grow in the aftermath of a natural disaster? 5. What advice would you give people recovering from a natural disaster? Interpersonal Communication 1. Describe your relationships before and after the hu rricane. 2. What coping strategies have helped you the most in t he aftermath after all of the volunteer help and government have left? Friends? Family? Communication? Stories? Isolation? Social support? Emo tional support? The questions were dictated by the ebb and flow of the conversation between the participants and me, but the above areas and related q uestions indicate the issues that I wanted to understand when the narrative i nterview was finished. The responses to the questions in the interviews have pr ovided a complex story. I donÂ’t believe that I led the participants in the i nterviews. I was sensitive to that possibility and asked neutral questions as neutrally as I could. Although I acknowledge that it is possible, when I reviewed the tr anscripts, it did not seem to me as though I was leading them. Family group interviews. In the family group interview with the family members, I asked the participants the following question s: 1. As a family, is there anything that you would like to add or clarify regarding surviving a hurricane? 2. As a family, what do you think is the best way to cop e with the aftermath of the hurricane?
59 3. What advice would you give to families going throu gh similar circumstances? Analysis I had planned to transcribe the interviews myself, an d I did so with a portion of the Smith interview. But a fall left me with a broken elbow, and being unable to type for 12 weeks. Not wanting to delay the transcription process, I employed a transcription service that transcribed the rem aining interviews. The entire transcription process resulted in 420 pages of tran scripts. Once I received the transcripts, I checked them for accuracy by listening to each taped interview, comparing it to the transcript and correcting each one as necessary on the transcript. All quotes used from the transcripts have been re-checked for accuracy with the taped interviews. The tapes and transcripts for each family were treated a s one unit. First, I listened to the tapes and then read the transcripts in order to conduct a Â“narrative analysisÂ” to understand what it is like to experience a h urricane (Ellis, 2004, p. 195). Second, I conducted a thematic analysis in order to identify emergent themes in their descriptions of events and feelings befor e, during, and after a hurricane and to determine whether adversarial growth was experienced. I elaborate on each of these below. Narrative analysis. Narrative analysis allowed me to understand what it i s like to experience a hurricane and through this underst anding to begin to identify how survivors coped with the hurricane. The narrative a nalysis of the transcripts provided awareness as to why hurricane survivors made speci fic decisions or
60 acted in a certain manner. Thus, my goal in using narra tive analysis was to understand the scope of surviving a hurricane. In writing the individual family narratives, I set th e stage with the hurricane survivors as actors placing them within the context and t ime frame of their experiences of the hurricane. The narratives were writt en as stories that have stayed true, as much as possible, to the interview transcr ipts, so the reader could gain a sense of what the family was thinking, doing, a nd feeling before, during, and after the hurricane. Using literary license, I combi ned the two or three hurricanes that each family experienced into one hurri cane in order to make the story flow more easily. I incorporated specific quotes fro m the transcripts whenever possible. The quotes added Â“concretenessÂ” to the narratives (Nicol, 2008, p. 320). When necessary, some of the quotes from t he participants were edited slightly for readability and grammar. Weather observations, such as wind speed and destruction, w ere researched for each familyÂ’s location with the National Hurricane Center, and I added these occasionally to lend authenticity to the nar ratives. I researched programs that participants mentioned using but about wh ich they could not recall specific information, including the Federal Food Stamp Disaster Relief Program. I re-created, as much as possible, a story that describes th e experience of surviving a hurricane. The family narratives can be fou nd in Chapter 3. Thematic analysis. Boyatzis (1998) suggests that Â“thematic analysis is a process of encoding qualitative informationÂ” (p. vi). T hematic analysis is the content analysis of the descriptions of the events and fe elings through the study
61 of the interview transcripts, audio-taped interviews, an d field notes (Ellis, 2004). Similarities found in the data are grouped together to form themes. Boyatzis (1998) describes a theme as Â“the pattern found in the i nformation that at a minimum describes and organizes possible observations or at a maximum interprets aspects of the phenomenonÂ” (p. vii). Themat ic analysis is similar to grounded theory where researchers assemble their findi ngs into customary groups (Ellis, 2004; regarding grounded theory, see al so Charmaz, 2003; Giske & Artinian, 2007; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Thematic an alysis is important to this study because it can provide an understanding of the nua nces in adversarial growth during and following natural disasters To conduct the thematic analysis, I followed the guideli nes of Miles and HubermanÂ’s (1984) qualitative data analysis, which inclu des Â“data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing/verificationÂ” (pp. 23-2 4). First, I used data reduction to select the data for the analysis by listenin g to the audiotapes for each interview as I read the transcript. I listed the sim ilarities and differences of their experiences in a notebook. Then, I created ques tions and labels to represent the participantsÂ’ descriptions of their experie nces within the context of the hurricane. For example, if the description was of t he preparation for the hurricane, I correlated it with a question about prepa ring for a hurricane. Then, I labeled the description preparation In the second step, data display, I numbered the label s and considered them as topics. I listed 37 topics in common among the pa rticipants. Then, I reread each transcript assigning a number line-by-line on the transcripts when one
62 of the topics was introduced. In addition, I re-examine d each answer to specific interview questions for similarities and differences makin g notes on which answers corresponded to a numbered topic. In the narrative interviews, the questions were (a) te ll me your story of surviving the hurricane; (b) how did you survive durin g the hurricane; (c) what coping strategies have helped you the most after the h urricane; (d) describe yourself before and after the hurricane; (e) in your opinion, what good or bad emerged for you and your family after the hurricane; (f) did the hurricane disrupt your path or goal in life, good or bad; (g) can ther e be personal growth after a natural disaster? If so, in your opinion, what is the best way to recover and possibly grow after a natural disaster; (h) and what a dvice would you give people recovering from a natural disaster? In the family grou p interview, two of the questions were asked with an emphasis on the family as a u nit: (a) as a family, how did you survive during the hurricane, (b) and as a family, what is the best way to cope after a hurricane when all the help has l eft. In the third step, I used conclusion drawing/verification to draw emergent themes from the descriptions of the events and feelings t hat I observed as topics from the analysis of the transcript, audio recordings, a nd field notes. Miles and Huberman (1984) suggest in the conclusion drawing/verifi cation step that Â“particulars are subsumed into the generalÂ” (p. 27). I re-examined the topics and the answers to the interview questions for themes, regula rly checking my notes, the transcripts, and the audio tapes for verification. I continually moved back and forth through the three processes of data reduction, dat a display, and conclusion
63 drawing/verification to arrive at reoccurring themes. Miles and Huberman (1984) explain analyzing qualitative data is an Â“interactive cyclical processÂ” that generates rigorous inquiry of the data (p. 24). I rep ort the findings of the thematic analysis in chapters 4 and 5. Summary In this chapter, I have provided the basis for using a qualitative approach to this study. I have included information about the narrative interview and the family group interview, and why I chose to use these t ypes of interviews. I have reviewed the selection of the participants and have ex plained the interviews and interview questions. I have described the narrative ana lysis and the thematic analysis. In Chapter 3, I present the narratives of wha t it is like to experience a hurricane.
64 CHAPTER 3 NARRATIVES Their story, yours, mine Â– itÂ’s what we carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them. Robert Coles (1989, p. 30) In the most rigid epochs of ancient kingdoms the family p reserved its separate structure, in which, despite its authoritative quality, individuals affirmed one another in their manifold nature. And everywhere the position of society is strengthened by this balance of firmness and looseness. Martin Buber (1998, p. 57) **** In this chapter, I present a narrative for each famil y that describes their experiences of surviving and coping with the hurricanes. T he narratives have stayed true, as much as possible, to the interview transcr ipts, so the reader could gain a sense of what the family said they were thinkin g, doing, and feeling before, during, and after the hurricane. Weather obs ervations and information on hurricane recovery programs available during that tim e from outside sources were included in the narratives. Specific quotations fro m the participants were used whenever possible and are indicated by parenthetic al citations to the interview transcripts T1-T6 with the page number indica ting the location of the
65 specific quotation in the particular transcript. Other qu otations, though consistent with what the interviewees told me, are the result of the use of literary license in constructed dialogue. The Brown Family The students were restless and chattering in the Haines Ci ty, Florida, 5 th grade classroom, as substitute teacher, Kathy Brown, age 40, following the recommendation of the principal tried to catch the Hur ricane Charley update on the television. At lunch, the principal had advised all of the teachers to keep the television on for the latest news on Charley, an unpre dictable hurricane, in case they had to close early. Blocking the studentsÂ’ ever incre asing noise levels was becoming difficult for Kathy. The students were just too excited and perhaps anxious, she thought. Using her best stern teacher voice, Kathy said, Â“Quiet d own.Â” The class immediately stopped talking. Only 30 minutes to go unt il school is over for the day, she reassured herself, as she turned up the volume on the television. Outside the windows of the classroom, the wind was kicking u p debris on the playground, in the hot late afternoon sun. Â“Hurricane Charley is expected to arrive in Polk County late tonight or early tomorrow,Â” said the weary looking television anch orman. As the school cancelations rolled across the bottom of the television scre en, the students erupted into a low cheer, as they saw their school listed Just then, the intercom in the classroom came on. The principal announced that sch ool was officially canceled tomorrow.
66 Kathy, brown-haired and tough, turned to focus on th e class and said, Â“Yes, school is canceled tomorrow, so we better take out ou r science books and review the pages for homework. We donÂ’t have much time before school is out,Â” she said as she eyed the clock. The class groaned, as they dutifully pulled their books f rom their backpacks and prepared to write down the homework assignmen t. As Kathy directed the students in a no-nonsense voice regarding th eir homework, her mind drifted to her four children and husband, David. What am I going to do with David if we have to evacuate? God knows, IÂ’ve tried to ship h im out of town, she thought. Just then, a hand was raised, Kathy, resilient, as always, gave her attention to the question. With school over for the day and canceled for tomorrow Kathy was driving home from her substitute teaching job with her four chi ldren in tow, having picked them up from their schools, when her cell phone rang. Turning the radio off, she said to her children, Â“Qu iet, itÂ’s my boss at the restaurant.Â” The children, Sue, age 12, Ann, age 10, and twins, John and Missy, ages 6, were silent immediately. Working as a server at the restaurant was their motherÂ’s second job. It helped pay the bills because Dad couldnÂ’t keep a job. Â“Hi Kathy,Â” said Sam, the manager of a local restauran t that employed her for the evening shift five days a week. Â“I wanted to ca tch you before you came to work. IÂ’m closing the restaurant early tonight and tomo rrow because of Hurricane Charley, so you donÂ’t have to come in.Â”
67 Â“Okay, Sam. Thanks, I appreciate you calling. I hope we Â’re not closed too long because I canÂ’t afford to miss any days.Â” Â“I understand. IÂ’ll call you and let you know when the restaurant is opening for sure. I only expect to be closed tonight and tomorr ow.Â” Kathy closed her cell phone and said to her children, Â“The restaurant is closing early because of Charley so I donÂ’t have to go i n. IÂ’m going to watch the weather tonight, to see if we have to evacuate. If w e do, maybe, weÂ’ll go to Aunt SallyÂ’s apartment. But right now, letÂ’s go home and se e what Dad is doing. Maybe he can cook you something for a snack, if he feels okay.Â” Â“Yeah,Â” said Sue who was dressed gothic in all black clothe s. Â“I want him to cook some hot wings, like he did last week.Â” Â“Me too,Â” said Ann, a slim brown-haired child with a wide grin. Â“I love those wings.Â” The twins, John and Missy, didnÂ’t say anything. Cherubic looking, brownhaired children; they were lost in their own worlds, whispering and giggling about something. Kathy nodded, twisted the radio dial on, and focused o n the road, but she couldnÂ’t help letting her mind wander a little. I sur e hope David hasnÂ’t had a drink today, she thought. Still, alcohol, I can deal with b ut not when he becomes violent. He was never violent before these last few mo nths, she reflected. What in the heck is wrong with him? How many times have I h ad the sheriff out? David and I are not getting along in the least, thatÂ’s for sure. If we have to evacuate, what I am going to do with him? HeÂ’s not welcome at m y parentÂ’s house. Our
68 mobile home isnÂ’t safe in a hurricane. Oh well, IÂ’ll d eal with it if we have to evacuate, she thought, as she turned resolutely onto the street leading into their neighborhood. David, tall and lanky, with brown hair, was home and had not had a drink. He was having coffee on the wood porch of their mobile home and was drawing in a sketch book. He was sketching an image of a skeleton, beset by demons, in rainbow colors, with syringes floating in from different directions, surrounded by four stars. As the children greeted their dad, Kathy l eaned over and studied his sketch. The stars, she thought, must be our children. Delighted to see his children, he smiled, and in answer to SueÂ’s query for a snack, he said, Â“CÂ’mon, letÂ’s go to the kitchen, and yo u can help me.Â” Â“Okay, Dad. I just have to put my stuff in my room,Â” S ue said, relieved that her dad seemed to be okay today. Ann went in to turn on the television in the living room. She wanted to catch the music show. She loved music. Kathy helped the twins settle in and then went to the kitchen to talk to David. Â“Hurricane Charley is supposed to be coming here to Hai nes City late tonight or early morning, so school is closed. WeÂ’ll know tonight if we have to evacuate. IÂ’m going to call my sister and see if we can a ll evacuate to her apartment.Â” Â“IÂ’m not evacuating,Â” David said as he took out a fryin g pan from the bottom cupboard.
69 Â“You know our mobile home isnÂ’t safe. TheyÂ’re expectin g winds over 60 miles per hour with tornados,Â” said Kathy. Â“Charley is going to be nothing. IÂ’ll stay here with the dogs. You know, you canÂ’t take them to your sisterÂ’s apartment. You take the kids, and IÂ’ll stay here. Besides, you know, IÂ’m not welcome there. Your family i s all sitting in judgment of me.Â” Â“I know, and it isnÂ’t right, them judging you, but I donÂ’t want to leave you here,Â” said Kathy, as she opened up the freezer and p ulled a box of frozen wings out. Â“How about if I get a motel room for you?Â” Â“No, I told you, IÂ’m staying here. IÂ’ll be fine. IÂ’m staying with the dogs, and thatÂ’s it,Â” David said, as he opened a bottle of veget able oil. Kathy decided to let the argument go because David wa s probably right. Charley wouldnÂ’t be anything. How many times had the y evacuated and nothing had happened? Besides, coming up with money for the mo tel room was hard. Money is tight, but IÂ’d find it if I had to, she tho ught. Seeing David was in a good mood, she decided to not ask him about job hunting. It would be nice for the children if they didnÂ’t fight. The last thing I need before a hurricane is a big scene, she thought. Besides, she had a lead on a third job. She knew she better check it out, but she was supposed to enroll with the local college down the road to complete her teaching de gree. How could she handle three jobs and school? Maybe she had better forg et about that third job and concentrate on school. IÂ’ll deal with it after Ch arley, she thought.
70 David wasnÂ’t drinking today, but Kathy didnÂ’t trust hi m when his friends started calling him to go out. He needed to hold dow n a job longer than a few months, she thought, as she left the kitchen calling fo r Ann, who was singing at the top of her lungs, to quiet down. That night, after the children went to bed, Kathy pa cked for evacuation and then took pictures of everything in her house, as she listened to the television. The update on the news confirmed what she f eared: Charley was heading for Haines City. Evacuation was suggested for a ll mobile homes in her area. Moving to the telephone in the kitchen, she calle d her sister, Sally, who lived in north Polk County, out of the path of Hurri cane Charley. Â“Can David and me and the kids evacuate to your place?Â” she asked Sally. Â“Yes, you can, but why you want to bring David is beyon d me. I donÂ’t really want him here.Â” said Sally. Â“Stop judging. Besides, I donÂ’t think I can convince him to come. He knows heÂ’s not welcome,Â” said Kathy. Sally held her tongue, and Kathy said goodbye and hu ng up. Kathy went into the living room to talk to David. Â“David, my sister said we could all evacuate to her hous e,Â” she began. David interrupted her, Â“I told you, IÂ’m not going t o your sisterÂ’s place. IÂ’m staying with the dogs here, and thatÂ’s it.Â” Kathy gave up on him and went to wake the children, for the drive to her sisterÂ’s apartment. Sue was worried about her dad being by himself in th e hurricane.
71 David said, Â“IÂ’ll be fine. Charley will be nothing. I have to stay and take care of the dogs.Â” Kathy reassured Sue that her dad could take care of him self and had lots of friends to help him. Sue comforted herself thinking that the hurricanes Â“wouldnÂ’t completely destroy our house being that [is] where we lived and everythingÂ” so her dad would be okay (T1, p. 43). Be sides, Sue joked with herself, Â“manly men stay in the houseÂ” (T1, p. 37). H er dad wasnÂ’t afraid of anything. Ann was confident her dad would be fine but worried t hat she couldnÂ’t take anything with her because there would be five of them in the car. Kathy had packed the bare minimum because of the car space, and she didnÂ’t tolerate complaining. Ann grabbed her favorite stuffed animal. The twins were so sleepy when Ann and Sue helped Kathy put them in the car t hat they didnÂ’t question anything. When Kathy and her children arrived at SallyÂ’s apartm ent, there was a party going on in the neighborÂ’s apartment next door Loud music was playing; people were banging on the walls, and spilling out o f the apartment door with beer bottles in their hands, all liquored up. SallyÂ’s kids were up, so KathyÂ’s children joined their cousins and ran around the apartm ent chasing one another. The noise from the party made it impossible to settle t he children down. Besides, everyone was excited to see Hurricane Charley. There wasnÂ’t much to see with Hurricane Charley because i t came through fairly quickly. One minute there was a lot of wind and rain and then the
72 next minute nothing. The noise from the wind was deaf ening. Charley sounded like a freight train to them. Charley reminded Kathy of the movie, Â“ Independence Day when the UFO comes down and you see all the clouds coming up aroun d itÂ” (T1, p. 82). During Charley, Kathy kept in contact with her parents to keep tabs on them. In the middle of the hurricane, her parents call ed her and held the telephone outside, so Kathy could hear the winds. She t old her parents, Â“Get back in the houseÂ” (T1, p.156). She tried to call David but their home phone was out of order. After Charley passed through, it was only 11 at night, and Kathy wanted to check on David. She was nervous because the local news had s aid that some areas of Haines City experienced wind gusts of 67 miles per hour and the remnants of a tornado on US Highway 27 (Pasch et al., 2005). So Kathy left her children at her sisterÂ’s apartment and began the drive home. But her car broke down on the way. Roads were closed and littered with d ebris, the traffic lights were out, and the police were busy. She called her si ster, and they left her car where it was, and drove to KathyÂ’s house where she foun d David, safe and sound asleep. She woke him, but he just grumbled at her She couldnÂ’t see much of anything in the dark because the power was out, and her small flashlight died just as she entered the house. Reassured he was okay, she went back to her sisterÂ’s house. The next day, driving over to their house in the lat e morning, Kathy tried to calm the children. They had heard stories on the news o f alligators being blown
73 into yards, and they were afraid to step outside of th e car. They also saw stuff that had been wedged into trees on the drive. They h ad heard on the radio that in another part of their county Â“a canoe actually was blow n up in-between two treesÂ” (T1, p. 157). They were worried about their house, b ut Kathy reassured them that it wasnÂ’t anything that they couldnÂ’t handle together as a family. Â“If we work together as a team, I know we can get the yard cleared up in no time,Â” she said to them. As Kathy turned into her driveway, she was shocked to see her house and the yard. In the daylight, the damage was more than she had expected. Her whole yard was covered with boards, shingles, and debri s. The roof on the front half of her home was lifted up. The children were sil ent when they saw their home but when David stepped out, they surrounded him, hugging and smiling. Â“What was it like?Â” Kathy asked David. Â“It sounded like the whole military landed on the roo f,Â” he said (T1, p. 83). Kathy found that the dogs had fared fine. There was a lot of rain damage inside the living room, kitchen, and two of the three bedrooms. David said there had been 6 inches of water in some of the rooms. The da mage to their home, they would find out, was caused by the winds from a tor nado spawned by Charley. The Brown home was the only house severely da maged in her neighborhood. Sue was upset when she saw her home. Everything was Â“d renched, ripped up, and nastyÂ” (T1, p. 41). She knew her paren ts would need help. I better grow up fast, she thought. She had always dressed in bla ck and scared people
74 with her black clothes and mouthy attitude, but now she knew she had to leave that behind. Being the oldest, she understood more tha n Ann and the twins. Her dad was an alcoholic, she knew, even if her mother would nÂ’t say it. Her grandparents didnÂ’t respect him. He couldnÂ’t keep a jo b for long. Her mother worked two jobs to pay their bills. Her dadÂ’s behavior in the last few months had been crazy. No doubt about it, she thought, she woul d have to grow up and help her mom. It was impossible for Kathy and the children to stay the re because their house was so damaged, and the water and electricity wer e off. David refused to leave their house because he still wasnÂ’t welcome at Ka thyÂ’s relativesÂ’ homes. He also wanted to begin repairing their house. David and Kathy sat down and made a plan to deal wit h their insurance, FEMA, and the repair of their home. He and Kathy ha d worked construction at one time, so the work was not new to him. DavidÂ’s first priority was to get the wet stuff out, then attack the roof, as soon as he got clear ance from their insurance company. Kathy had taken photographs before Charley, a nd now she took more pictures to document the damage. David also had a line on a job resulting from the hurricane, so he needed to be in their area for i t. He told Kathy, Â“IÂ’m pitching our pup tent in the ya rd and staying here.Â” Kathy knew he wouldnÂ’t change his mind, so she didnÂ’t t ry to talk him out of it. Besides, she knew he needed to be available for the possible job opportunity.
75 The day had been brutally hot at their house, and th e children were quiet and a little down, as Kathy drove to SallyÂ’s place, so she made a stop at a RaceTrac gas station for a frozen carbonated drink. The kids perked up immediately. There were so many different kinds of fro zen drinks to choose from that the children promptly nicknamed it, Slushy World. Reveling in the coolness of their drinks, the children seemed to perk up as Kathy told them, Â“DonÂ’t worry. We can handle everything by working together as a fam ily. Material things donÂ’t mean anything. They can always be replaced. As long as y ou have your life, your health, and your family, you are fine. We have that so weÂ’ll be fine.Â” Back at her sisterÂ’s apartment, Kathy began the task of ge tting the insurance company and FEMA out to her property. She ra n back and forth from her sisterÂ’s home to her own house and her two jobs. Scho ol was out temporarily, so her sister watched the children. The chi ldren loved having their cousins to play with and had a ball playing inside and outside with them. Still, tempers flared between Kathy and Sally because Sally f elt Kathy was doing too much and not spending enough time with her children, so Kathy moved into her parentÂ’s house with her children. KathyÂ’s parents entertained the children with games. Th e children especially loved a game they invented with candy bars. Grandpa kept separate jars of Musketeers, Snickers, and Heath bars. Their grandma decided to mix the candy bars together.
76 Grandpa pretended to be mad and teased grandma. He sa id, Â“I donÂ’t mess with your pots and pans. Why are you going to mess with my chocolate? DonÂ’t mess with my tools either.Â” Everyone laughed. So the children with their mother and grandma decided to play a little joke. They Â“took a whole bunch of choco late bars and put them around the table on the edges. When somebody moved on e a certain way, someone would yell at that person for moving itÂ” (T1, p. 30). It was a stupid childish game, Ann thought, but she had the best time p laying it. Kathy and the children had been at her parentÂ’s home for almost two weeks when on one of her frequent visits, she stopped bet ween jobs to check on David who had been without electricity and water the whole time. Greeting David with a hug, Kathy immediately stepped back. Boy, do yo u smell ripe, she thought. She immediately called her parents for permission for David to shower at their home. They gave an unenthusiastic okay, so she broached th e subject with David. Â“David,Â” she said. Â“My parents say you can shower at th eir house. Will you do that?Â” Â“No, I wonÂ’t go to their house. Take me to a lake,Â” he said. No amount of talking could convince him, so Kathy drov e him to a lake. David and Kathy got out of the car and walked toward the flat sandy slope of the lake, so David could walk into the water. Kathy stood wi th a towel, as David walked into the water, bare-chested in cut-off jeans. B efore he could immerse himself completely, an alligator came up on the surfac e of the water. David and
77 Kathy saw the alligator at the same time. She screamed his name, as he hightailed it out of the lake. Kathy got her wish. David showered at her parentÂ’s house. Later that night, the children laughed hyster ically as Kathy told them about their dad bathing with the alligator. Meanwhile, in the BrownÂ’s neighborhood, without wate r and electricity for almost two weeks, their neighbors were losing heart. The temperature and humidity were brutal. Everyone was suffering from hea t and no water. One neighbor joked about sitting by a fire hydrant with a gun until the water was switched on. Kathy confided to her parents, Â“You canÂ’t f ind water, you canÂ’t find ice, but you sure can find Budweiser. There are more b eer trucks. There are so many people intoxicatedÂ” (T1, p. 140). The only way to get ice and water seemed to be to go where President Bush was going to show up or drive to other locations in cities mentioned on the radio as having ice and water. Feeling abandoned, the BrownÂ’s neighbors banded together and became closer. Everyone in the neighborhood realized that without electricity and water they were in a disaster. Still, Kathy was worried about Da vid, but he had gotten a job, and, with their home to repair, he seemed to be doin g okay. Finally, after two weeks, the water and electricity came on in their neighborhood, and school was re-opened. The house still wasnÂ’t fit for the children and Kathy to move back in, so they stayed at her parentsÂ’ house. But Kathy dropped them at the house after school as much as she could, so they could see David when he was home. He cooked hot wings o r steak for them.
78 David wasnÂ’t around too much because his job was demandin g. The hurricane had opened up new possibilities for him, and he wasnÂ’t drinking as much. Finally, after months of fighting with FEMA, Kathy w as finally able to get a trailer from them. She and the children moved back ho me, and the Brown family was reunited. The insurance money came in, and Kathy a nd David decided to handle the new roof themselves. Roofers couldnÂ’t be fou nd for a decent price, and the quality of their work was shoddy. David and Ka thy were well-versed in construction work so they felt confident they could do i t and do a better job to boot. David and his father-in-law came to an understanding, and he helped David with the roof. KathyÂ’s dad couldnÂ’t do much becau se he had health problems, but he helped as much as he could. They took the shingles off, intending to put the new roof on the next day, but then David was called into work. While he was gone, a storm headed their way, so K athy called her father to help secure tarps on the roof. As Kathy held on to a t arp up on the roof with her father holding it below, the wind picked up. Soon she yelled down to her father, Â“IÂ’m windsurfing. Â” She laughed, as she attempted to secure the tarp with it billowing ou t behind her in blue plastic folds (T1, p. 146). Her neighbors gathered, laughed, and joked with her as she rode the wind on the top of her roof. The roof was completed in the next few days, with all of the Brown family helping. Missy and John helped bring the shingles and th e nails to the ladder. Ann and Sue carried as many shingles up the ladder as th ey could, and Kathy
79 assisted David with the nailing. Working together, Kath y and David became closer and started to heal their relationship. As soon as the roof was done, David began repairing the inside of their mobile home when he wasnÂ’t at his job. Their house wa s basically uninhabitable because of the water damage. But soon, David started to complain of dizziness, headaches, and numbness. Kathy carted him off to the doct or. The news was bad. He had a large tumor in his brain that was cancer ous. A cure was iffy, but radiation and chemotherapy were necessary if he was to h ave a chance to survive. The children were told of his illness. Upset and worried, the children rallied around him, wishing and hoping for a recovery Humbled by his illness, he threw himself even more int o working on the house for his family. He grew closer to his children and Kathy. During radiation, he moved out of the FEMA trailer and stayed in the b edroom with the least amount of damage, so he could be isolated from germs when his immune system was down. As David became sicker, Kathy was contacted by FEMA and to ld to prepare for the removal of the FEMA trailer even th ough their home wasnÂ’t completely finished. A big obstacle to moving into thei r own home was having no beds because they had been destroyed by rainwater durin g Charley. The insurance money they received wasnÂ’t enough to repair t heir home, let alone get new beds, so Kathy sought help from community organiza tions. She brought all of her paperwork into an organization who offered he r a voucher for $100 dollars, but the woman on the floor said she couldnÂ’t give he r anything because she
80 could make more selling the items to other people the n giving them to Kathy for the voucher. Kathy found another organization that w as able to help her so she could get her beds. Moving back into their house, even with bare floors an d the insulation showing from the walls where drywall hadnÂ’t been put up yet, was the best gift to the Browns. They could live together. David was becomin g sicker and sicker but somehow he found the strength to continue to work on th e house. The week before he died, he summoned his last bit of the strengt h to get the kitchen window fixed and in place. David told Kathy, Â“IÂ’m going to fix that window bef ore I die,Â” and he did. Four years after Hurricane Charley, Kathy found Rebui ld Polk County After Disaster (RPAD). RPAD paid for materials and coll ected a crew of twelve volunteers to finish the BrownÂ’s home. The volunteers h elped replace the front and back doors, patched a hole in the floor, repaired a closet, painted, and added trim work to the floors, walls, and ceilings. After her home was finished, Kathy quit one of her th ree jobs and enrolled in course work to finish her college degree, to realize her dream of becoming a teacher. Sue got a job to help out with expenses and plans to go to college after high school graduation. Ann ran into some trouble at school, which the Browns are sorting through with her. John plays video games when not at school, and Missy talks to them about seeing ghosts. In their living room, the Browns have created a shrine to David.
81 The Smith Family Jane Smith Arms draped around her boyfriend, Jim, Jane Smith eye d the boxes from her move a week ago from Georgia to his Florida condo. She had intended to move into the home that she had tried to purchase bef ore moving to Florida, but there was a hold on the contract, so here she was with h er stuff at JimÂ’s place. Nestling her head sideways into his chest, she said, Â“IÂ’m so sorry, Jim. The county thinks Hurricane Charley will be a category 4, so they asked all the charitable organizations to send a volunteer to the em ergency operations shelter. I am the only one in our department certified in ma ss shelter operations, so my boss asked me to volunteer to stay at the shelter. I ha te to leave you with this mess, but I am supposed to go there tonight.Â” Jim gave Jane a tight squeeze and said, Â“ItÂ’s okay, hon ey. ItÂ’s your first week on the job. I know you have to volunteer. Hopef ully, Charley will be a big nothing, and youÂ’ll be back by tomorrow night. We can tackle these boxes and getting your belongings from storage when youÂ’re back for your move into your new home if the contract works out.Â” Jane, blond-streaked hair, trim and fit, looking young er than her 42 years, held onto Jim, and looked him in the eye, as she laughe d and said, Â“Charley better be nothing.Â” Then, letting go of Jim, she said, Â“I better get packed for the shelter.Â” Later, that night, Jane settled into the emergency op erations shelter, a Â“bunker-like environmentÂ” and tried to find a place to sleep (T2, p. 3). It was a
82 madhouse. There were over 200 women in the bunker and not enough beds. Women slept wherever they could find a place to put th eir heads. Moving through the crowd of women, Jane walked down a hallway and opened an office door. The office was empty. Thank hea vens, thought Jane, as she unrolled her sleeping bag on the floor and plumpe d up her pillow. At least itÂ’s quiet in here. I guess IÂ’d better get used to this becau se IÂ’m here until Charley shows up, she thought, as she lay down. The door opened, and she welcomed five more people to the space. As people stepped over a nd around her, Jane began her nightly prayers. Hurricane Charley took forever to make landfallÂ—four d ays to be specific. During that time, Jane didnÂ’t shower because there we re only two showers and not enough hot water for everyone. Meals were hit an d miss, and the coffee was terrible. Jane barely slept because it was impossible to f ind a comfortable spot, let alone a private place to sleep. To make matters w orse, her realtor called her about the contractÂ—the deal was off. Jane called Jim to complain, Â“ItÂ’s terrible here but wo rst of all my contract on the house fell through,Â” she said. Jim replied, Â“Too bad, but I know youÂ’ll find another house. ItÂ’s not so great here either because weÂ’re in a hold pattern. A ll activities have been canceled.Â” After commiserating with one another, they h ung up. Jane made a friend, Kathy, a volunteer from another charitable organization, during her four days and nights at the emergency operations building. After the hurricane passed and it was safe to leave, she told Kathy just
83 before they left for their homes, Â“What a relief it will be to go to JimÂ’s condo, and take a few days off. IÂ’m so tired.Â” Â“Jane, didnÂ’t you hear the latest? The director just an nounced that all the volunteers here will get a few hours off, and then wi ll be sent to Arcadia to work out of their emergency operations shelter. They were the hardest hit by Charley,Â” said Kathy. Â“YouÂ’re kidding,Â” Jane said. Â“No, unfortunately, IÂ’m serious. They are sending a te n-passenger county van driven by a county employee to pick us up at our h omes. I saw your name on the list for the van IÂ’m in, so I guess IÂ’ll see you in about four hours.Â” After more discussion with Kathy, Jane took off to check on Jim because she hadnÂ’t been able to reach him. She knew the cell phone tower was down, and Jim didnÂ’t have a landline. Still, she felt alar med. When she arrived at the entrance to his neighborhood, she found trees were blo cking the road, so she couldnÂ’t get to his condo. The county hadnÂ’t cleared the trees because JimÂ’s condo was in a gated community. Jane joined a group of bystanders in the road, and together they organized volunteers with trucks and ropes to clear enough of the trees to make the road passable. She found Jim unhurt but scared from the storm. Jim wasn Â’t too thrilled that Jane was leaving again, but knew Jane had to do h er job. After seeing Jim for a few hours, she was picked up by the county van cont aining Kathy and eight other volunteers. After saying hello to the occupants o f the van, Jane took a seat,
84 and leaned her head back to think about how they would help deal with the aftermath of Charley in Arcadia. The windows on the van were down, and the droning sou nd of chain saws filled the air as Jane and Kathy arrived in Arcadia. Â“Who is managing this recovery?Â” Jane said, as the driver of the packed county vehicle they were riding in slowed down to skirt debris in the road. Â“I heard that the director of the recovery is here, b ut it doesnÂ’t look like anyone is in charge, and thatÂ’s a problem. Because I w as briefed before I left, I can say that if people move trees and try to help peo ple before they take photographs of the damage then the homeowners will ha ve problems with their insurance. I hope the homeowners took pictures before the y let the faith-based groups help them,Â” said Kathy. Just then, the van drove by a Â“chainsaw wieldingÂ” fait h-based group proudly wearing their religious affiliations on thei r t-shirts (T2, p. 2). Jane knew from her brief training that if a recovery wasnÂ’t man aged properly, with collaboration between all groups working to help disast er survivors, that there would be chaos. Save me from these groups, thought Jane as she saw people lifting branches off of a shed. Â“How can we get some collaboration going between our d isaster recovery group and these faith-based groups?Â” asked Jane. Â“IÂ’m not sure, but it is sorely needed from what IÂ’ve heard,Â” replied Kathy. Jane and Kathy were let off at the emergency operatio ns center in Arcadia, another bunker like building. The directory o f recovery was there and
85 quickly briefed them on their duties, noting that the y could be reassigned at any time based on need. Both were to oversee case managers h elping people get the food and water they needed. Jane lived at the emergency shelter for two weeks. Durin g this time, she ate peanut butter sandwiches, canned tuna, and whatever people brought back from the points of distribution. Working 17-hour shifts was exhausting. Mostly Jane missed Â“coffee and showers,Â” and other stuff she prev iously took for granted. She tried to make the best of the situation, telling herself it was only temporary (T2, p. 33). There was no time to contact Jim for longer then a mo ment or two. Besides, the cell phone tower reception was sketchy. But th e news heard over the static on the line was bad. JimÂ’s parentsÂ’ condo, locat ed an hour from Jim, had been damaged in the hurricane and was unlivable. His parents needed help desperately and had to be moved immediately. JaneÂ’s pa rentsÂ’ condo on a barrier island, four hours away, had minor damage. Du ring this time, Jane couldnÂ’t do anything to help her or JimÂ’s families beca use she had to live at the shelter. The responsibility fell to Jim. Not being abl e to help their families was taking a toll on Jane, draining her mentally and emo tionally. One day, Jane ran into Kathy after a particularly emo tionally and physically exhausting shift. Trying to take a respite fro m their work, they talked about movies. Â“Remember the movie with the gorillas and the mist? W hat was the name of that movie?Â” Jane said.
86 Â“I know that one. The movie with Sigourney Weaver? What was that name?Â” replied Kathy. Suddenly, they looked at one another and said in uni son, Â“ Gorillas in the Mist.Â” Jane and Kathy laughed uncontrollably, tears running down their cheeks, Â“punch drunkÂ” with exhaustion (T2, p. 33). Wiping her tears away, Jane said good night to Kathy and tried to find a comfortable spot to sleep. The next day, JaneÂ’s eyes were opened to families that wouldnÂ’t lift a finger to help themselves and were trying to take adva ntage of the system. JaneÂ’s case manager got a call in the early evening. Â“I have seven children, and we havenÂ’t eaten in four days,Â” said the mother. The case manager, her sympathies aroused, immediately contacted Jane and asked for help to get the family food, since the d istribution center was closed for the night. Jane rallied more volunteers and recei ved access to a food supply. When Jane and the volunteers arrived later that night they found the seven kids were mainly teenagers. They were sitting outsi de with beers in hand waiting for free food. Â“If you can get to the store to buy yourself this be er, you can get to the store to buy yourself some food. DonÂ’t cheat another family out of what they rightfully need and deserve,Â” Jane said to the father of the family (T2, p. 14). Â“We need the food,Â” he protested. Â“No sir, I donÂ’t think you do. I am sorry, but we are going to move a little further down the street. We know there are some senior s who havenÂ’t eaten in
87 days. It would be nice if you could help us go door to door to deliver some of this food to the people that havenÂ’t eaten,Â” Jane said (T 2, p. 14). Finding they didnÂ’t care to participate in handing ou t food to the seniors, Jane moved on to people in need, becoming more cautio us and savvy to the seamy side of disastersÂ—the abuse of the system (T2, p. 18 ). That night as she prepared to say her prayers, Jane thought over the day Outraged, as she relived the scene with the family of seven teenagers, Jane made up a name for them. IÂ’ll call them, Â“system milkers,Â” she thought, because thatÂ’s wh at they are, people that milk the system for free stuff when they donÂ’t nee d it. They give a bad name to people that want to be self-sufficient, but need a help up not a handout (T2, p. 19). But that wasnÂ’t only the abuse that got to Jane; she al so heard stories from her case managers of people using their FEMA mone y to buy big screen televisions but not planning how or where they would live after the FEMA housing ran out. She knew there was a lack of education on what to do with the money, and some of her seniors couldnÂ’t grasp the reality of t he situation no matter how much explanation was given. Jane didnÂ’t work around the clock but it seemed that way. When she was allowed to leave the shelter and move back to JimÂ’s con do, she still didnÂ’t have any time to rest. There was no time to relax with Jim or even to begin looking for a home to purchase. She and Jim helped his parents sett le into a new place. So it was a constant packing, and moving of everyoneÂ’s possessio ns. Finding a vehicle to rent for moving was next to impossible.
88 Bone tired and emotionally stressed, she didnÂ’t give he r belongings another thought until a few weeks later when driving by the storage facility that her possessions were in. Unconcerned, she glanced at the building, and then looked again, hard. She slammed on her brakes in shock. T he roof had been blown off. Security was tight. No one was being admit ted to the building. The security guard gave her a phone number to call to rece ive permission to enter the building. Upon receiving approval, she entered the facility and was shocked. Every corrugated box had collapsed. Mold was growing over ev erything. The boxes were standing in 3 inches of water. Tears running down her face, Jane surveyed her boxes, trying to block the overwhelming smell of ro t and mildew from her nose. Luckily, Jane had insurance. Her insurance company asked her to take a picture of every item in her boxes. So she loaded the items into garbage bags, took them to another facility, cataloged each item, and then threw them away. Teary eyed, as she sat and itemized her clothes, she spoke sternly to herself. ItÂ’s just clothes. IÂ’m healthy. I didnÂ’t lose a home. Jim sti ll has his home. Knowing she was fortunate because she hadnÂ’t lost a home she tried to contain her emotions. Still, certain outfits would trig ger her feelings. Looking at one dress, she thought, I wore this to my brotherÂ’s wed ding. Breaking down, crying as if her heart would break, she was ashamed for crying over her possessions. These are just things. They can be easily replace d, she thought. I
89 have the memory. But it was the memory attached to he r possessions that bothered her even though she knew she still had the me mory. Still, Jane didnÂ’t have much time to grieve because the re was a community that needed her help. She knew there were p eople out there who had no means to replace their homes or possessions. She muster ed up her faith in God, yet wondering why He allowed things to happen. She embraced the fact that all she had lost were things that could be replaced Then one day, everything became clear to Jane. It was h er charge to help people. A client came into the office, desperate for h elp. Jane helped her and met her needs. When they were done, the woman started to cry. Â“Thank you for helping me. Without you, I wouldnÂ’t h ave anything. God bless you,Â” she said. Putting her arms around the woman and giving her a tight hug, Jane said, Â“YouÂ’re welcome. It was a pleasure to help you.Â” In the four years since Hurricane Charley, Jane accepted a position in disaster recovery and moved to a different county in F lorida. Jane and Jim remain friends but are no longer together. Chuck and Betty Smith The wind was picking up, ruffling the palm leaves and cr eating a din, as retirees Chuck and Betty Smith conferred with Deputy Sh eriff Banks in the parking lot of their condominium complex on Jupiter Isla nd, Florida where they lived seasonally in a modest unit.
90 Hurricane Jeanne was coming. The Smiths had heard on th e news that evacuation was ordered for their island. How many time s had they evacuated, and then nothing had happened? Too many, by their co unt, thatÂ’s for sure. Packing and shutting down their condominium was tiresome. Plainly, it was just too much work. The Smiths knew they were down t o the wire, waffling about evacuation. Should they go? The news seemed thre atening about Hurricane Jeanne. Deputy Sheriff Banks would help them make a decision about evacuating from their unit. He was a good man. They h ad known him for years. Â“Let me put it this way, Mr. Smith,Â” said Deputy Sher iff Banks, raising his voice to be heard over the wind, as small debris whipp ed around them in the gray early afternoon light. Â“The water and electricity wi ll be shut off to the condominium complex. The hurricane shutters will be bo lted from the outside, so you will not be able to get out of your unit. No on e will be on the island to help you, and the bridge to the mainland will be shut dow n for who knows how long, depending on the severity of Jeanne. Do you still wan t to stay?Â” Chuck Smith, age 72, and father of Jane Smith, looked r uefully at his wife, Betty, age 63, stepmother to Jane, and said, Â“I guess we better call Shelly and Joe and ask if we can stay at their house. If they say ye s, weÂ’ll call Jane and your children to let them know we are evacuating.Â” Betty, trim and fit from playing tennis every day, sighed and nodded her head to her h usband and then turned to look at Deputy Sheriff Banks. Â“Thanks, Sheriff. WeÂ’ll be leaving. How long do we have before they close the bridge to the mainland?Â” Â“You have three hours, maÂ’am,Â” he said.
91 Taking her husbandÂ’s arm, Betty said, Â“CÂ’mon, Chuck, we better call Shelly and Joe and start packing.Â” Thanking Deputy Sher iff Banks once again, they turned and walked hurriedly through the parking lot by the tennis courts and the pool, skirting twigs and small bromeliads in their path. Â“I guess we wonÂ’t be playing tennis for awhile,Â” said C huck as he took one last glance at the tennis courts before ducking into the f irst stairwell on the building, letting Betty go first up the stairs. Â“I guess not. No more swimming either,Â” said Betty as she started quickly up the stairs to the third floor and began thinking a bout all the work she had to do to get ready to leave. And in only three hours, she t hought. Thank goodness, we have good friends to stay with. Chuck, able-bodied and robust, followed Betty, thinking along the same lines. He said, Â“IÂ’ll call Joe and Shelly. Boy, are we lucky to have them for friends. WeÂ’ll be better off at their house because the yÂ’re a mile inland, so we should miss the brunt of the storm there. We better bri ng as much as we can from our refrigerator because, with the electricity of f, it will spoil.Â” Mentally, making a list, as she climbed, Betty answered, Â“LetÂ’s pack the food last. I wonder how many changes of clothes weÂ’ll ne ed.Â” Â“No telling,Â” said Chuck. Â“But, we better be prepare d because Jeanne might be the real thing. I have our insurance and docu ments in the safe. I better pack those first. I hope we donÂ’t have to make a claim, but IÂ’ve been with the insurance company since 1956 with never a claim, so it sho uldnÂ’t be a problem.Â”
92 Â“I sure hope we donÂ’t have a claim. We better write a list, so we donÂ’t forget anything,Â” said Betty, as she reached the third floor landing. Â“Good idea,Â” said Chuck as he unlocked their door and im mediately headed in to the phone in the kitchen. Â“IÂ’ll call Joe, and then we can write the list together. We can call Jane and your kids as soon as we ge t to the Grays.Â” Two hours later, the car packed to the hilt, Chuck and B etty sat in their car maneuvering the best they could in heavy traffic. Ever yone on the island had waited until the absolute last moment to evacuate, so traffic was horrendous. Hours later, shaken by the traffic, exhausted from packin g and loading their car, the Smiths were welcomed into the home of their dear friends, Shelly and Joe Gray, just in time for a late dinner. JoeÂ’s specialty, baby back ribs, was just coming off the propane grill in the garage as the Smi ths arrived to candlelight. The GrayÂ’s electricity had been shut off. The Smiths and the Grays made the best of it without e lectricity. Forced to eat from the GrayÂ’s well-stocked freezer plus the food the Smiths had brought, they enjoyed ice cream the next morning for breakfast. They took pleasure in eating shrimp and steak cooked on the grill in the garag e. They had enough bottled water stored for their needs. Candles were use d at first, but the ventilation was bad with the house closed up, so they moved a card t able to the master bathroom, where a skylight provided enough light. There, they played cards, listened to a portable telev ision that ran on batteries, and used the landline phone. They tried to keep their spirits up. They laughed and joked, as Betty and Chuck marveled at all the great food and the
93 wonderful setup they had with their friends. They also comforted one another when the noise from the wind and the flying debris pe netrated the house, and the news on the television was ominous. Wind gusts at Jensen Beach in their county had been reported at 91 miles per hour just before t he anemometer failed (Lawrence & Cobb, 2005). Rainfall was estimated to be between 8-13 inches (Lawrence & Cobb, 2005). They felt helpless, trapped i nside wondering whether the house would stand up to the impact of the hurrica ne. This went on for four days. During this time, Betty and Chuck kept in touch with fa mily and friends. Chuck called his daughter, Jane, on the landline phone a nd talked to her new boyfriend Jim, who assured him that Jane and he were f ine, at least for the moment. Betty called her friend Ann, who had just tur ned 100 years old and lived by herself. Ann was evacuating to her neighborÂ’s house for the hurricane. Betty worried about her friend because it was hard to devia te from a routine at AnnÂ’s age especially a change in diet. Ann was doing okay but longed to be home. Emerging from the GrayÂ’s home in the early morning a fter the fourth day, the sight was shocking. The pool was filled to the brim w ith debris, and the trees that were still standing were like bare sticks, stripped o f their leaves. The Smiths helped clear the debris in the driveway, so they could get their car out of the garage, and then, anxious to check on their home, they left immediately. The television news anchor had reported that homeowners wou ld be allowed on the island for only a few hours because the water and electr icity were still shut off.
94 Driving home was a nightmare on highway Florida A1A. The highway was deluged with sand and saltwater (Lawrence & Cobb, 2005 ). Fences were down left and right. Debris, tons of it, was everywhere. Peo ple were just starting to pile wet furniture and carpeting on the sidewalks. When the Smiths arrived at their home, they found tha t some water had made its way under the sliding doors and had wet their carpeting and kitchen cabinets. Their carpeting and cabinets were damaged bey ond normal repair because the water had been there for four days. After inspecting their home, Chuck, an optimist, turned to Betty and said, Â“Fortunat ely, it isnÂ’t damaged any worse than it is. ItÂ’s just an inconvenience,Â” thatÂ’s all it is (T2, pp. 38, 41). Nodding her head, Betty said, Â“I know but what a mess. Â” Putting his arm around Betty and giving her a comfort ing squeeze, Chuck said, Â“We canÂ’t stay here until this wet stuff is removed IÂ’ll call the insurance company and find out the process for getting this fixed and then I guess weÂ’ll go back to Shelly and JoeÂ’s. Before we go, I want to check o n our neighbors to see how they fared and if they need any help.Â” said Chuck. Â“Okay, IÂ’ll start packing more clothes, and then I want t o call Ann, to see how she is. She didnÂ’t sound happy about evacuating fro m her home,Â” replied Betty. The news from their neighbors was generally okay althou gh one unit had three sliding doors that had blown out. Not many peop le were in the complex because it was out of the season, and the few that were there were, like Chuck and Betty, starting the repair process by calling their insurance companies. The
95 news regarding Ann was bad. She had been admitted to the hospital because her digestive system was off. She was so weak that she could nÂ’t get out of the hospital bed by herself. Fearing the worst for her friend, Betty resolved to v isit her as soon as she and Chuck got back to the mainland. Dragging a suitcase ou t from the back of the closet, Betty tried to figure out how long it wo uld take to get the insurance resolved and the wet stuff removed so she and Chuck coul d move back in. Two or three days, she thought, as she lifted the suitcase on to her bed. Arriving back at the GrayÂ’s house, the Smiths were welc omed again with open arms. Chuck made contact with his insurance company but after many phone calls of trying to find workmen to remove the car peting and the bottom kitchen cabinets, Chuck realized they would have to rel y on themselves and their friends. He enlisted the help of Joe and another frie nd, Bob, to go back to his home with him, the next day, to help remove the car peting. Joe had plenty of tools and high-powered battery operated lights to hel p them. ChuckÂ’s unit was small, so the three men were able to remove the damag ed carpeting, some furniture, and clean the floor in a day. The next day, Chuck and Joe went back with another frien d, Ned, who was a retired plumber. Ned advised Chuck and Joe how to remove the bottom kitchen cabinets, countertop, and the kitchen sink. The kit chen was small. So, with NedÂ’s tools and help, the process went smoothly. Th e men saved the countertop, sink, and some kitchen appliances. Luckily, the water hadnÂ’t reached the refrigerator.
96 Chuck and Betty werenÂ’t able to go home, because the wa ter and electricity to the island were still off. So, they conti nued with card games and grilling outside, and helped the Grays remove the deb ris from their pool. Chuck and Betty called Jane and the rest of their family to assure them that they were safe and that their unit, although damaged, was still standing. Betty and Shelly canvassed the area for more food and water. They went together to visit Ann in the hospital. Ann wasnÂ’t doin g well, and both Betty and Shelly were alarmed. Shelly offered for Ann to come to her home, but Ann couldnÂ’t leave the hospital. She could no longer walk. Within a few days of their visit, Ann died. Betty knew that at 100 years old, AnnÂ’s time on earth was limited, but still she was furio us at AnnÂ’s death. She told Chuck and the Grays: I just feel very, very strongly that, you know, if she had not had to endure that hurricane that upset her balance, that upset her routine, and upset her medication that she was so careful about doing, she woul d have lived longer than that. (T2, p. 53) Everyone was very sympathetic to Betty regarding the l oss of her dear friend. The hurricane was changing all of their lives, even of people they didnÂ’t know. On the television news, they saw people without resources lo sing everything they had. The news from the SmithÂ’s daughter, Jane, was pain ful. Jane had just discovered that all of her belongings, which she had in a storage facility, were ruined several weeks ago as the result of a previous hur ricane. Jane said, Â“I know what I lost is nothing compared to a ll the losses IÂ’ve
97 seen in Arcadia. People have lost their homes and every thing in them. They donÂ’t have insurance or any money to replace thei r clothes even.Â” Â“But, it still hurts, doesnÂ’t it?Â” said Chuck. Â“Yes, I hate to admit it. I am so emotional. When I t hink that I lost the dress I wore to PeterÂ’s wedding, I feel so sad. Even th ough I know, itÂ‘s just a thing and not the memory. But, IÂ’m trying to put my faith in God,Â” said Jane. Â“Yes,Â” said Chuck. Â“Remember, honey, if you need us to h elp in any way, we will.Â” Â“I know, Dad, but you have enough to do to replace th e carpeting and kitchen cabinets in your place. I feel bad even complain ing about losing my stuff,Â” said Jane. The hurricane had not only caused loss but affected how p eople were treated. The Grays and the Smiths had witnessed firsthan d that more affluent neighborhoods received water more easily than other ne ighborhoods. In one of their many discussions of the inequities in the world an d life in general not being fair, Chuck observed, Â“Financial things are one of the w orst thingsÂ” (T2, p. 42). Everyone agreed. Five days, later, when the electricity and water were turned on in their complex, Betty and Chuck moved back into their home. Th eir previously carpeted floors were now concrete, the windows were barricaded wi th plywood, and the kitchen wasnÂ’t functioning. They ate out and only slept at their home, often joining the Grays and other friends for early bird di nner specials at local restaurants. As soon as the tennis courts were functional a nd the swimming pool
98 re-opened at their complex, Chuck and Better resumed th eir tennis games and their daily swims. Repair on their unit was slow. It to ok eleven months for their unit to be restored. Four years after Hurricane Jeanne, the Smiths put thei r condominium unit up for sale. Chuck assured his daughter, Jane, that his mo tive for selling had nothing to do with the hurricane. He and Betty wante d to be more centrally located, so all of their children and grandchildren can visit them more often for the day, rather than just once a year for a week. The Smiths bought a cabin on a lake in Alabama that t hey would move to when their unit sells. Much to his chagrin, the insurance company Chuck has been with since 1956 canceled his policy. Unhappy with t he cancellation, he and Betty discussed it with the Grays. He said, Â“I think theyÂ’re chintzy. They make enough pr ofit as it isÂ” (T2, p. 45). Everyone agreed. Betty is still angry at the loss of her friend, Ann. She blames Hurricane Jeanne. The Allen Family A tropical wave surfaced off the coast of western Africa on August 4th and caught the attention of the National Hurricane Center as Beth Allen, 51, did her weekly cleaning in her already spotless home in Winter Haven, Florida. Moving slowly due to an illness that affected her joints and a car accident that crushed her ankle and put her on disability, Beth picked up a dust cloth and hovered over a small draped table with crystal vases and framed famil y pictures in the living room. Deciding the vases were perfect for now, she turne d to the kitchen
99 counters for one last swipe as she hummed a song praising the Lord. Moving back to the living room, she lowered herself gingerly o nto her velvety brown sofa, and pushed the remote control for the television to che ck on the weather. The young man on the weather channel mentioned the t ropical wave, but Beth didnÂ’t think too much about it. A tropical wave was nothing. Certainly not a hurricane and Africa was so far away from Polk County, F lorida. Besides Beth had her prayer group on her mind and the need to pr ay for her grandson. The weather man intoned on about the tropical wave sayin g the satellite images were Â“not particularly impressive just after passing the coast, since it had only a small area of associated deep convectionÂ” (Pasch et al., 2005, p. 1), Â“whatever that meant,Â” Beth thought as she clicked off the television an d then picked up her Bible from the immaculate side table and opened to he r favorite verse. Hurricanes always seemed to miss Polk County so it was hard for Beth to take them seriously. It was even harder to prepare for them, as her only income was her Social Security disability payment. She had a co uple of gallons of water and some canned food. Her adult children tried to hel p her but they had their own problems. Beth did not intend to be a burden to them If they only knew, she thought, that her homeownerÂ’s insurance on the house wa s canceled because she couldnÂ’t make the payments due to the car accident b ills. The Lord would protect her, she prayed fervently. Eight days later on August 12 th Beth came home from a church supper that broke up early because that tropical waveÂ—now a h urricane named CharleyÂ—had reached category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson H urricane Scale (Pasch
100 et al., 2005). It was strengthening and appeared to b e moving towards Cuba and Florida. When she walked into her home, Beth immediat ely turned on the television and watched the predicted paths. The telephone rang, and she went to the kitchen to pi ck it up. It was her daughter. Â“Momma,Â” she said. Â“CharleyÂ’s supposed to come to our area. WonÂ’t you come and stay with us?Â” Beth watched the silky drapes behind her television set as she told her daughter, Â“No, I donÂ’t want to le ave my home.Â” BethÂ’s daughter was furious with her, Â“Momma youÂ’re stubborn, Â” she said. Beth told her, Â“I may be stubborn, but I donÂ’t want to abandon my home. The Lord will protect me.Â” The telephone would ring many times through that nig ht and the next day with BethÂ’s three adult children beseeching her to come to them. Each time, she told them, Â“This is my home. I donÂ’t want to leave my home.Â” She tried to reassure them, Â“If I go, itÂ’s just my time. ItÂ’s just my time to go. And, if itÂ’s not my time to go, God is gonna take care of meÂ” (T4, p. 15) Finally in exasperation Beth told her children, Â“IÂ’m grown and thatÂ’s my deci sionÂ” (T4, p. 9, 15). BethÂ’s children knew it was useless to try to convince the ir mother to leave her home, so they began to pray with her on the tele phone as Charley increased to a Category 4 storm with winds of 125 mph. They pra yed with her as Charley made landfall the next day on August 13 th sweeping near Cayo Costa, an island north of Captiva, snapping trees in half and destroyin g everything in its path (Pasch et al., 2005). They prayed with her as Charley with winds near 130 mph, devastated Port Charlotte, and began to advance rapid ly toward BethÂ’s home. As
101 day turned into night, Beth spoke with her next doo r neighbor, Judy, who was also staying in her home. They prayed together until the winds were fierce, the sky black, and the telephone lines went dead. Electricity cut, Beth was in total darkness in her beloved home as Charley swirled into her neighborhood with wind speeds of 41-54 mph (Pasch et al., 2005). Alone in her home and afraid, Beth tried to rest as t he night grew late but could not. She heard the rain and debris pounding her windows. Worst of all was that Beth could not see what was happening outside in the dark. So, to calm herself, Beth limped from the bedroom to the living room and then the kitchen and then started back again. Over and over, feeling he r way in the dark, Beth wore a path across her house as she prayed to God to pr otect her. Sometime in the early morning, when Beth was in the kitchen trying to see something, anything from her back kitchen window, a fiery explosio n lit up the sky, like the Â“fourth of JulyÂ” (T4, p. 2). A transformer in the chu rch parking lot backing up to her property had exploded. A big fire started with sp arks flying everywhere. Beth got to her knees and started to pray, Â“Please God, don Â’t let the fire spread to my house.Â” Within 30 minutes, BethÂ’s prayer was answered, as a heav y rain drowned the fire. Thanking the Lord, she took inventory of her house at sunrise. Three windows had blown out and the roof was leaking water through the ceiling and onto the floor in her hallway. Hurrying as much as sh e could, her joints and ankle hurting her terribly, she tried to cover the windows w ith garbage bags and blankets. The wind and rain subsided briefly. Beth look ed out of a cracked
102 window and saw to her horror a huge tree in her fron t yard beginning to fall toward her house. The tree was so big; it had shaded he r entire house. Surely, it was going to destroy her home. Frozen with only her f aith to calm her, Beth watched as somehow Â“God blessed, shifted the wind so the tree fell in the roadÂ” (T4, p. 3). Relieved, Beth thanked God and prayed to be kept safe and her house from further damage. Still, the relief was short live d, as without insurance on her house and no money, Beth Â“didnÂ’t know what she was go ing to doÂ” to repair the damage from Charley but knew with certainty that God had a plan for her (T4, p. 4). After Charley passed completely by midmorning, the fi rst thing Beth did was pray. Then, she went outside to survey the damage a nd find her neighbor, Judy. When she saw Judy, they hugged and continued hugg ing as they walked around the neighborhood and said, Â“Thank God no one was hurt,Â” and marveled that they had survived the hurricane (T4, p. 13). Loo king around, they were shocked by the damage. Some of her neighbors had trees in the middle of their houses and carports. Looking back at her house, thinking ab out the tree that almost fell on her house, Beth felt lucky and said a si lent prayer of thanks to the Lord. Later that day, reality set in: She had no electricity or water, a situation that would continue for almost 2 weeks in the hot Aug ust sun. Without power to keep it cool, all the food in BethÂ’s refrigerator rott ed within days. Food was a big issue as she couldnÂ’t cook a hot meal. It was awful for Beth, who had always insisted on a proper dinner and prided herself on sett ing a nice table. She stayed
103 in the house for a few days until the Red Cross offered some help, then she moved to a hotel with Judy. The hotel room was hard t o get to and not up to BethÂ’s standards, but there at least she had lights and water. BethÂ’s children were also without power and had experienced damage i n their homes, so she wasnÂ’t able to go to them. So Beth and Judy became on e anotherÂ’s families, trying to help one another cope in the hotel. After a few days in the hotel, they both returned to their homes to deal with the clean up. Clean up was difficult without electricity, and the hea t and humidity were brutal. Beth tried to sop up the water in her house, kneeling painfully with a bucket and sponge. Using bleach to try to contain the mo ld, she recited Bible verses to comfort herself. She knew that surviving Charl ey was all part of a divine plan for her life, but it was hard because she had nev er gone through a disaster. She was frustrated because she could hear on the radio that help was on its way but no one arrived. Her neighbors were crying because t hey had lost all of their food. A week later, FEMA showed up and assessed the dama ge to her home and gave her $1400.00 for repairs. FEMA also provided a place in Lake Wales to get food stamps on a card that worked like a Visa card. Beth and Judy sang hymns as Judy drove them to Lake Wales to get food stam ps. Three weeks, later, with the money from FEMA and with the help of her daughter, Beth found someone to remove her carpet to keep the mold from causing further damage and begin to repair some of th e damage to her home. Beth felt blessed because people came and fixed things f or a good price and did a good job. The FEMA money wasnÂ’t enough to repair a ll of the damage, so Beth
104 called different organizations and went to support gr oups to find out what agency could help her. Having gone through support groups due to her disability, Beth knew it was just a matter of time before the Lord led her to an organization that would help her. As Beth tackled her kitchen window with a vinegar solution, she thought, Â“I will not be a burden on my family with the LordÂ’s help.Â” BethÂ’s home was in disarray, which was hard, but more i mportant to her was the emotional state of her children and grandchildr en. Her telephone rang daily with calls from them. Even though her family ha d survived Charley, they had not been mentally prepared for it. Beth told he r children, Â“Material stuff can always be replaced, but it is the emotional part that is devastatingÂ” so letÂ’s pray together and support each other (T4, p. 20). BethÂ’s gr andchildren asked their parents, Â“Why us, momma? Why us, daddy?Â” Beth told he r children to answer, Â“We donÂ’t know why but we have one another and we w ill get through this together.Â” Communicating daily with her children and grandchildre n and supporting them emotionally became the primary item on BethÂ’s to -do list. She didnÂ’t worry about dust on her picture frames or even calling groups to find help with her roof. Being there for her family was her top priority becau se Charley had taken a toll on all of them. As she looked out her kitchen window at the old transformer on her back lot line, Beth offered her family support an d hope as they talked through their emotions. BethÂ’s family grew closer and stronger t hrough their daily supportive contact with her.
105 Even BethÂ’s neighbors began to bond with one another through supportive conversations. Beth and Judy embraced their neighbors and were always available to lend a supportive ear or to share inform ation. Judy and Beth constantly went back and forth between one anotherÂ’s hou ses, so much so that BethÂ’s children bonded with JudyÂ’s adult children. Toge ther, Beth and JudyÂ’s families and their neighbors slowly recovered emotional ly from Charley. Beth praised the Lord for extending her family and provid ing emotional support when they all needed it. Four years later, Beth found RPAD, which was willing t o complete the repairs to her home. RPAD engaged a contractor to repl ace her roof in April 2008 and scheduled a volunteer to repair the damaged ceili ng in her kitchen. Beth gave witness and praise to the Lord at a church supper t hat night after receiving confirmation from RPAD. After arriving home from chu rch, Beth settled on her couch and clicked the remote control on the weather chann el on the television. A tropical wave was noted off the coast of Africa. Beth gl anced back at the gallons of water that had been stacked in her kitchen by her chil dren. Then she looked back at her new carpeting and thought, Â“The police will have to come and arrest me but IÂ’m not leaving my homeÂ” (T4, p. 17). The White Family Feeling edgy, Carol White, age 58, sturdy and fit, s moothed her nononsense short brown hair, as she quickened her pace around the perimeter of the hospital construction zone checking for intruders in t he hot September sun. As a security guard, she was used to noticing details, thi ngs out of place, but she
106 felt distracted because she had just received a call from her supervisor that Hurricane Jeanne was blowing into town. Her supervisor, Tom, said Â“Take one last visual of the f ence then head out so you can evacuate from your own home.Â” It wasnÂ’t like Jeanne was unexpected, she mused, as she exa mined the temporary chain link. After all, in the last 12 days, Je anne had slowly churned through Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republ ic and had caused Â“3000 or more deaths in Haiti from torrential floodi ng, then hit the Northern Bahamas,Â” and the latest information predicted landfal l on the Â“central Florida east coast as a category 3 hurricaneÂ” (Lawrence & Cobb, 2 005, p. 1). But evacuating from Polk County, Florida seems extreme, sh e thought, since it is in central Florida not near the coast. WouldnÂ’t Jeanne be down to just a little wind and rain when it got to her? Carol, single with a beloved cat, Rose, kept up on the weather, and spurred by a younger friend, Jill, who attended the sa me church as she did and tended to watch over her, she had evacuated to JillÂ’s pa rentsÂ’ house when Hurricane Charley came through. But Charley didnÂ’t da mage CarolÂ’s cement block two-bedroom home. It was built in 1947 by her fa ther, a year before she was born. They just donÂ’t build homes like they use to, she thought, as she tried to think how to tell Jill that she was not going to ev acuate this time. Leaving work, Carol thought she had better pick up some cat food for Rose, another gallon of water, and maybe some batteri es. In the grocery store, Carol looked at the batteries, canned goods, cases of wate r, and the prices. She
107 complained to her favorite cashier, Sam, Â“Why, it woul d take $40 to get all the stuff to prepare for the hurricane!Â” Â“Yeah, itÂ’s crazy,Â” said Sam. Â“ThatÂ’s for sure,Â” she said, as she thought about how t ight her money was on her low salary. She barely had an extra $5 let al one $40, and Rose was her only indulgence. As Sam rang up her water, cat food, a nd batteries, Carol watched the prices appear on the screen and then the tot al. Looking through her wallet for some more money and f inding none, she told Sam, Â“I guess, I wonÂ’t get the batteries. Probabl y wonÂ’t need them for Jeanne anyway.Â” Â“Yeah,Â” said Sam, as he removed the batteries from the conveyer belt. Â“Jeanne is going to blow over tonight.Â” Arriving home from work and walking into her living r oom where a large portrait of Jesus hung, Carol stopped, bowed her head, and said a silent prayer asking for help with Hurricane Jeanne but most important ly she asked for the right words to tell Jill that she wasnÂ’t evacuating. Car ol wasnÂ’t worried about Jeanne. Just some rain and wind like Charley. Rose and I will be fine, she thought, as she dialed JillÂ’s number, and surveyed her small comfortably cluttered home. Carol took a deep breath as Jill answe red the phone. After exchanging hellos with Jill, Carol said, Â“Jill, I know you want me to evacuate but I have decided to stay here because Jeanne will probably be nothing.Â”
108 Jill took the news with surprising grace, and said before they hung up, Â“Carol, IÂ’ll include you in my prayers tonight. Call me if you need any help.Â” After hanging up the phone in her kitchen, Carol fed Rose, filled every pot and the bathtub with water, and settled in for the night to wait for Jeanne. Jeanne came roaring in with rain and winds still at 53 to 67 mph when it reached CarolÂ’s home (Lawrence & Cobb, 2005). The powe r soon went out, and Carol was alone with Rose in the dark. Unable to see o utside, the sounds got to her. Scraping, clawing things whipping around in the d ark scared her badly. Shaking, she held onto Rose. She heard the 59-year-old timbers in her house creaking as the wind, and rain tore at her house. Drops of water started to come from the ceiling into her bedroom so she moved to th e bathroom and huddled there with Rose. She prayed out loud, Â“Lord, protect me and Rose,Â” to drown out the noise. Finally, the winds died down and the sounds stopped but the power was out, and it was pitch black. Carol left the bathroom, a nd gingerly inched her way in the dark to her dining room to look outside. She c ouldnÂ’t see anything. She wanted to walk to the end of her driveway to look aro und, but it was so dark she was afraid to go out, and so she waited, with Rose in h er arms, on the couch in her living room, a few feet from her dining room wi ndow. In the morning, walking around her house, inside and outside, Carol saw the damage. It was bad. Shocked, Carol could hardly ta ke in the destruction. Jeanne had ripped off her carport and porch, the ceili ngs in her home had dropped, and the roof was severely damaged. Carol now understood why she felt
109 like she was Â“living in a rainforestÂ” last night (T6, p 21). Tears dripped down CarolÂ’s face as she realized how close she had come to havi ng her house demolished and being killed. As she wiped her tears awa y, she marveled that the house was still standing and she was alive. Bowing her h ead, she said a silent prayer of thanks to God. After assessing her situation, Carol checked on her neigh bors who she hadnÂ’t seen much of previously because everyone, herself included, was preoccupied with their own lives. Everyone was okay, but water was leaking into their homes, too. They were concerned about losing thei r food as they were also without electricity. Her neighbor, Linda held back tears as she told Carol, Â“ I heard on my radio that it may take a week or more to get power. I am going to lose all the vegetables I put up in my freezer if they donÂ’t get the power on in the next few days.Â” Within just a few days without power, with the neighb ors pooling their food to eat before it was spoiled, the food was either eate n or discarded. As Carol carried her last garbage bag of spoiled food to the cu rb to join the mounting debris she had collected from her yard, she saw Linda, and they started to chat. Pointing to the garbage, she told Linda, Â“ThatÂ’s the last of my food. What am I going to do?Â” Linda said, Â“Call the Red Cross. ThatÂ’s what IÂ’m going to do.Â”
110 Carol called the Red Cross and said, Â“IÂ’m alone in my d amaged house without food. Can you help me?Â” The Red Cross was sympa thetic and directed her to call another organization. Carol called the other group and a sincere sounding wo man told her, Â“WeÂ’ll send someone out to you. Where do you live?Â” After giving her address, Carol hung up, and felt relieved as she moved to the yard to wait for the person coming to help her. Everything will be fine, she thou ght, as she settled into her lawn chair to wait for help. Except, as the afternoon wore on and the night fell, no one came. Carol ate the last of her peanut butter an d crackers for dinner that night. Luckily for Carol, her friend Jill stopped by the next morning to check on her. When Jill found out that all of CarolÂ’s food was now gone, she said, Â“Carol, why didnÂ’t you call me? I told you to call me for hel p with anything.Â” Carol told her, Â“I didnÂ’t want to bother you.Â” As Jill took her car keys out of her purse and gestured to CarolÂ’s front door, she said, Â“Friends are supposed to help friends. LetÂ’s get in my car and get some food for you.Â” Jill drove Carol half an hour to the only store open. She bought Carol a cooler, some food, and some ice for an exorbitant price. A McDonaldÂ’s was open, and Jill told Carol, Â“IÂ’m treati ng you to lunch.Â” As Carol gratefully bit into a cheeseburger, she told Ji ll, Â“This tastes so good. YouÂ’re the best friend I ever had. Thank you.Â” Jill smiled at Carol and said, Â“IÂ’m here for you, Caro l.Â”
111 Looking into JillÂ’s eyes, Carol said, Â“I feel so much stron ger because of you. Just doing things together instead of being by myse lf makes me feel better. I feel like I can handle things now.Â” The ice, Jill bought, did keep the food cold for a day but soon melted in the heat and humidity from the September sun. Carol went with her neighbor, Linda, to find ice, but the price was ridiculous. Carol couldnÂ’ t afford to replace all the food that had spoiled, let alone pay high prices for ice to keep the food cold. Linda was in the same situation. So Carol and Linda j oined forces to find sources for meals and water that were free to hurricane surviv ors. They found churches and charitable organizations where they could be fed. But life was rough because, without air conditioning, sleep was impossible in the heat. As the week wore on, Carol grew restless as she waited for FEMA to come and assess the damage to her home, particularly the roof. She piled debris on the curb. She tried to sop up the water in the ho use. She helped her neighbors. There wasnÂ’t much Carol could do to repair her home until FEMA came to look at it. She also managed with Linda to fin d a church about 20 minutes away by car that was giving out water, ice, and tarps. Jill was in daily contact with Carol. She knew from wor king with Carol at their church that Carol always felt better when she hel ped people. So, Jill called Carol when she heard about a church in need, and asked her to help Jill bring supplies for the church members to use as they fixed their roof.
112 As Carol hefted food out of JillÂ’s car, she told Jill, Â“I feel better helping people instead of being so self-oriented. Being self-or iented is what is wrong with people today.Â” Pleased that Carol was feeling better, Jill nodded her head and said, Â“IÂ’m glad youÂ’re feeling better but I donÂ’t think of you as self-oriented. YouÂ’re always helping people.Â” Later that day, Carol felt especially good when her n eighbors invited her to go to the Salvation Army and sit at a table together to eat dinner. Carol was starting to feel better with the daily connection with Jill and interaction with her neighbors. She found that helping other people helpe d her feel stronger. Finally, after a week had passed, FEMA came, but the a mount of money they gave her to fix her roof wasnÂ’t nearly enough. Roof contractors were in high demand. Carol couldnÂ’t find a contractor that would f ix her roof properly for the money FEMA gave her. In the mean time, she needed fo od and gas, so FEMA granted her permission to use the money for those necessi ties. Without money to fix her home, Carol called another charitable organization for help. An anonymous voice told her th ey couldnÂ’t help her. She called another group. A nice man answered and told her Â“IÂ’ll try to find someone to help you. I donÂ’t know how long it will take. IÂ’ll get back to you when I know something.Â” Carol hung up the phone and wondered what to do. Wi th her house damaged, and no concrete plan, money, or people to f ix it, she felt torn. Should she return to work so she could make some money or quit w ork to spend all of
113 her energies finding someone to fix her house? Doing something physical always cleared her mind so she decided to go outside to her fr ont yard. Carol was physically fit, she knew, but mentally she fel t broken and fragile, as if she was tenuously holding on to life. Musing over what would happen without a job as she picked up debris and put it at the end of the driveway, she thought about what was real and important to her, he r home. How would she feel going to work and coming home to her damaged house? H er house would not be fixed without her time and energy to find the necessa ry resources to repair her house. Walking to the broom leaning near her front door, she thought how upset she was and decided to ask herself the toughest question. C an I work? She realized the answer with startling clarity. The answer was no. She couldnÂ’t. She was too upset to work. Her home was more important to her than a job. Carol decided her home needed her attention. She had to ta ke care of it before anything else. But how would she fix her house withou t money, she wondered, but then immediately knew the answer. She would have to rely on the strength of the Lord because everything came from him. Carol heade d inside to call her supervisor, Tom, and tell him her decision. Tom had news of his own for Carol. Before Carol could tell him her decision, he said, Â“Security for the job you were on has been halted, but I found something for you about 20 minutes farther from your house.Â” Carol told Tom she had to fix her house. Tom took the news okay, although he didnÂ’t understand how Carol could let a job go even if it was farther f rom her house.
114 The power finally came on after more than a week, but life resorted to dayto-day living for Carol, centering on finding resource s to help her with her house and basic needs. Being single, CarolÂ’s friend, Jill, was h er family. Jill called her daily to listen to her and offer moral support. Carol thought about how JillÂ’s encouragement kept her going as she dialed number afte r number to find help for her house. Carol appreciated the willingness of Jill to concentrate on keeping her optimistic and not letting her focus too much on discussing tasks. Sometimes, Carol and Jill talked about Bible verses. Carol began t o feel stronger knowing she was handling staying in her damaged house by herself Carol and Linda grew closer, as they sought support from local churches, and the Salvation Army for their needs. They began, as Carol called it, to Â“playÂ” the Â“gameÂ” (T6, p. 17) of the organizations they wen t to for help. The game consisted of the organization requiring difficult timeconsuming paperwork filled out with obscure details in order to receive resources f rom them. Most people didnÂ’t have the time, energy, or patience to fill ou t the paperwork and lost the game. Without completed paperwork, no resources were gi ven out to anyone. But Carol and Linda mustered their patience and spent hours helping one another complete the necessary documents. They turned in their completed paperwork, won the game, and received the resources they needed to help them. Reflecting on the latest game she had played with Li nda, as they sat in lawn chairs in her front yard, Carol grimaced. They dr ove to the Lakeland Civic Center to receive food stamps from FloridaÂ’s Disaster Foo d Stamp program approved for Hurricane Jeanne. Expecting the center to be mobbed with people,
115 they arrived at 3:00 a.m. to be the first ones in li ne when the doors opened at 7:00 a.m. They turned in their applications to the pr ocessor and were qualified for food stamps. Then, they were directed back to the line t o wait for their food stamps. At 8:00 a.m., Carol and Linda were told to com e back on Saturday. They went back on Saturday, and stood in line for three mor e hours, until a processor told them that the food stamps would be mailed to the m. Carol leaned back in her chair as she thought about how she and Linda had perseve red, and finally got what they needed. If they had given up, she wouldnÂ’ t be able to have food. She told Linda, Â“I donÂ’t care how long it takes or the ridiculous hoops they put us through; I am going to win this game.Â” Linda n odded her head in agreement. Two years later in 2006, Carol found RPAD, which was w illing to help her. RPAD replaced her roof, repaired the structure, restore d the ceiling, and installed insulation throughout the house. In 2008, she applied for RPADÂ’s mitigation program and was approved for free hurricane shutters. Carol never did go back to work. She spent her time an d energy to find groups to repair her home. In 2008, she was hit by a car and was disabled from the accident. She receives disability payments from Socia l Security. Carol walks slowly now with a brace on her leg and a walker as Rose runs back and forth in her home. She thanks the Lord that she is alive. The Dean Family Dripping Spanish moss, the branches of the 40-foot Oak trees swung back and forth in the Lake Wales, Florida, yard of Clay De an, age 42, as he wrestled
116 rope around a patio table, trying to tie it to the railing of the back porch of his 20year-old mobile home. Looking up, he saw his sons comin g toward him, and yelled above the wind to Scott, age 15, and Tim, age 12, Â“Go get Mom and take her to the truck. SheÂ’s nervous about making it out of h ere. I should be ready in about 15 minutes.Â” The afternoon sun had disappeared completely as Scott an d Tim entered their home to find their mother peering out the back window and listening to the radio. Scott immediately told her, Â“Dad said itÂ’s tim e to go.Â” Lara Dean, age 42, disabled from multiple strokes an d in a wheelchair, painfully stretched her fingers to grasp the radio dial to turn it off as she said, Â“Okay, but go slow. The wind looks wild.Â” Scott and Tim each took a side of their motherÂ’s wheelcha ir, and, bit by bit, rolled her out the front door, down the ramp, and onto the dirt path to the red truck. Pulling the truck door open against the wind, Tim anchored his body on the door to keep the wind from slamming it shut. Shielding their mother from the brunt of the wind, Scott and Tim carefully lifted h er into the truck. Lara leaned back in the seat and said, Â“Thanks, boys. Tel l Dad to hurry. Hurricane Charley is heading our way faster than they expected, so all mobile homes have to evacuate now. TheyÂ’re saying on the radi o that before the wind sensors at Punta Gorda went out the winds were up to 97 miles an hour (Pasch et al., 2005). Charley is supposed to bring tornados wh en it comes through central Florida tonight. I called Grandma and Grandpa and told them to expect us soon.Â”
117 As Scott and Tim hurried to give their dad the weathe r update, Lara, pale, and trembling, sought to calm herself. She closed her ey es and thought: You can always talk to God. God had been her source of comfort and strength during her many strokes. God helped her make sense out of life. Go d gave her a great family and a wonderful husband in Clay, who had stoo d by her side during her rehabilitation and quit his good paying job to become her caregiver. She started to pray, Â“God, please protect my family and my home.Â” Just as Lara finished her lengthy prayer, Clay and her sons joined her in the truck. Clay patted LaraÂ’s hand as he told her, Â“DonÂ’t worry, honey. Everything will be okay.Â” Ever positive, Clay thought about how their mobile home was paid off, and they had no debt, because he and Lara didnÂ’t believe in it. Pulling out of their driveway, taking one last look, h e thought, yeah, everything will work out no matter what happens. As he turned on the highway and adjusted the radio, he said, Â“No sense worrying. WeÂ’ll take it day by day, and thank the good Lord for what we got.Â” Lara said, Â“Amen.Â” The boys nodded their heads in agre ement. Scott looked out of the window as his dad drove and tho ught about his friends and his new job making sub sandwiches. Scott is exp ecting to get his driverÂ’s license in a few months and needs to make some money for gas. He wasnÂ’t worried about their house; he knew his dad was a hard worker making money in landscaping, and he could fix anything. Â“Man,Â” Scott said, Â“Just when I was making some money.Â” Â“DonÂ’t you worry none.Â” said Clay. Â“ThereÂ’s always a w ay to make money.Â”
118 Tim looking out the opposite window from Scott said, Â“ This storm is a wimp.Â” As he relaxed into the back cushion, Tim wondere d how soon he would be back and when he could go over to his friendÂ’s house to try out his new video game. After arriving at LaraÂ’s parentsÂ’ home in Winter Have n, Florida, Clay, Scott, and Tim immediately jumped into the warm pool They played until the winds became so strongÂ—and with the sky darkened to almost blackÂ—that Lara, afraid for their safety, called to them, Â“Get out no w.Â” Soon after, they all settled down to eat sandwiches, dr ink soda, and munch chips with LaraÂ’s parents. Branches cracked outside an d trees fell, taking out their power. Everyone was nervous about the trees except Scott. He was far more worried about what was happening to his home. The news on their battery-powered radio was ominous. T wo tornadoes had passed through Polk County near Lake Worth close to w here the Deans lived. Polk County wasnÂ’t the only county hit in Flor ida that day. The National Hurricane Center reported on the radio that Â“nine to rnados across the Florida peninsula in association with CharleyÂ” caused injuries an d deaths (Pasch et al., 2005, p. 2). By midnight, Charley had passed through their area. T he Deans wanted to see their home, so they left LaraÂ’s parentsÂ’ home in th e dark of night. Everyone was on edge, as Clay drove the truck slowly around chairs, and stuff in the road. They saw Â“trees, 40-years-old snapped at the roots,Â” an d a whole house crushed by a tree (T5, p. 26). The winds were still high, and so many structures were
119 damaged by tornadoes that Clay began to prepare his family for seeing their home. He told his family, Â“So if itÂ’s there, itÂ’s ther e. If itÂ’s not, well, weÂ’ll just start overÂ” (T5, p. 39). When the Deans arrived at their home, it was a shock. P eople were going through their things looking for stuff to steal. Sever al people had the DeansÂ’ possessions in their hands. The would-be criminals dropped the items and ran off quickly as the DeansÂ’ truckÂ’s headlights illuminated them a nd Clay opened his truck door, yelling, Â“Hey!Â” at the top of his lungs. The thieves gone, Clay and his sons, using high powered flashlights, took stock of their home. The front and back porches were gone, along with the ramp for LaraÂ’s wheelchair. There was structural damage to th eir home and obvious leaks inside. There was no electricity or water. One tree was down in the front of their property, and debris was everywhere. After reporting the damage to Lara waiting in the t ruck, Clay told her, Â“It isnÂ’t anything we canÂ’t handle with the LordÂ’s help.Â” Reaching out for ClayÂ’s hand, Lara nodded her head and said, Â“WeÂ’ll get through t his.Â” As Clay directed Scott and Tim to clear a path for Lar aÂ’s wheelchair, he unearthed his generator, giving thanks to the Lord that the thieves didnÂ’t get it. In the house, he set up a little camp in one room, using his generator to power a fan and a television, and all sleep there for the night. Clay told Lara, Â“WeÂ’ll be like peas in a pod,Â” as he r olled her wheelchair along the cleared path.
120 Lara couldnÂ’t believe her first close up view of her ho me. She told Clay, Â“It looks like there is nothing leftÂ” (T5, p. 26). Clay said, Â“I know, but with some work, weÂ’ll be okay.Â” Scott and Tim joined them to look at the house. No one said anything as they lifted Lara in her wheelchair into the house. Once inside, Lara drew comfort from the Bible verse tha t entered her mind, Â“And this too shall passÂ” (T5, p. 32). She manag ed a shaky smile when she saw ClayÂ’s little camp. Â“YouÂ’ve thought of everything, Â” she said. Later, just before they slept, Lara told Clay quietly Â“It just proves to me that we have to trust God because as far as IÂ’m concerne d there is nothing too difficult for God to handleÂ” (T5, p. 29). Scott opted out of sleeping in the small room with his parents and brother. He told them, Â“This room is too small for me,Â” and to ok a pillow to the truck. As Scott settled uncomfortably in the truck, he thought ab out the damage to their home, and how much effort it would take to restore it to a livable place. He told himself, I better step up and help out. IÂ’m not a kid anymore (T5, p. 10). Scott knew the hurricane was a setback for his family but he tri ed to focus on what his dad had always told him, Â“ItÂ’ll take just a few more steps. DonÂ’t focus on the negatives, and always focus on the positives, and things w ill look better that wayÂ” (T5, p. 13). Well, at least the house is still here, h e thought, as he tried to stretch out on the backseat. The next day, Clay, Scott, and Tim worked like a team to clear the debris from the yard, and set up a makeshift ramp, so they cou ld get Lara in and out of
121 the house more easily. Then, Clay and his sons checked on their neighbors to see if they could help them. Clay also called the police to report what had happened the previous night and to ask them to place a squad car in his neighborhood to make sure nothing was stolen. The poli ce arranged for an ambulance to stay at the entrance to the neighborhoo d to help people who might need oxygen. Clay was able to get water and had enou gh gas for the generator to keep the fan going, which Lara needed for her heal th. Later in the day, as the fan circulated, Lara listened to ClayÂ’s stories about the damage their neighbors had experienced from Charley. After several days of hot, back-breaking work in the Aug ust sun trying to stabilize and repair their home, and eating mostly can ned food, the Deans needed supplies. So they all piled into the truck, an d went to Piccadilly to eat. After they were seated, Lara said a prayer of thanks for their blessings, as they held hands and bowed their heads before they ate. Later, between mouthfuls, Clay smiled as he said to hi s family, Â“Oh man, weÂ’re in hog HeavenÂ” (T5, p. 19). Clay thought abou t how thankful he was that he could rely on his family for support. Yeah, mused Clay, I found out when I became LaraÂ’s caregiver thereÂ’s not a whole lot of help coming from Uncle Sam. Scott loved eating out, too, but he was worried about what his friends would think when they saw his home. Plus, his job was go ne, as the store had little business now due to Charley. But, he thought, a s he reached for the catsup, IÂ’m Â“smarter and more responsibleÂ” because of Charley ( T5, p. 10). I know what
122 to do now, how to prepare mentally for a hurricane, and how to protect our home and property. Tim ate potato salad as he thought about money. I won der how weÂ’re going to find money to repair our home. Man, he tol d himself, life ainÂ’t no joke, and you better have money when something bad happens. Lara appreciated the restaurantÂ’s air conditioning and working bathroom with running water. She missed the comforts of her hom e. Our living standards have dropped dramatically with Charley, she mused, as she tried to straighten her fingers on the cool smoothness of the napkin. How wil l I ever do my exercises and heal without air conditioning, she wonder ed. Lara had been focused on healing from her strokes before Charley. She knew she would continue to heal but it would just take a little longer. She trusted God because she knew there was Â“nothing too difficult for GodÂ” to handle (T5, p. 29). She felt blessed her faith was growing stronger, a nd she thanked God daily. But Lara knew everyone didnÂ’t feel that way, especial ly some of her neighbors. She thought about her neighbors, all working class, who had difficulties before the hurricane, and now had been stolen from or rippe d off. Clay had told her, Â“ThatÂ’s the lowest of the low. To steal from people who donÂ’t have anything to begin with.Â” Lara agreed. Back at their home, the Dean family continued to work f or the next two weeks to make their house more livable, and to help the ir neighbors. After Scott and Tim got back from helping to clear their elderly w idowed neighborÂ’s driveway, Clay told Lara, Â“IÂ’m proud of the way Scot t and Tim are working as a
123 team with me for ourselves and the neighbors, because it seems like everyone else is doing their own thing and not helping one ano ther.Â” Lara replied, Â“That makes me happy. Our sons are doing the LordÂ’s work.Â” Still, the DeansÂ’ friendships changed. Some friends hel ped them, and some friends faded away because they were jealous that the D eans didnÂ’t lose all of their stuff like they did. Scott complained to his mom, Â“Boy, you sure find out w ho your true friends are, whoÂ’d break their back for youÂ” (T5, p. 2 ). Scott and Tim learned from their parents that regardless of whether people helped them it is important to be nice to people and help them anyway. Helping people was fine with Scott and Tim. That made them feel good, but appearances were another matter. They were worrie d about appearances. What would their friends think about them now that th eir home was a wreck? Lara just listened to them because she remembered what it was like to be a teenager when stuff and appearances counted. Clay told the boys, Â“DonÂ’t pay any attention to your situation, just move on. As long, as you got your health, youÂ’ve got everythin gÂ” (T5, p. 50). Finally, after two weeks, the electricity was restored, a nd Clay was able to get Lara into air conditioning again, but a decision h ad to be made about the mobile home because it suffered so much structural dama ge. Clay discussed the situation with Lara, Â“Lara, it doesnÂ’t make any sense to repair our house because itÂ’s a mobile home, and they donÂ’t hold their re-sale value.Â”
124 Lara said, Â“YouÂ’re right, but what are we going to d o?Â” After much discussion and prayers, Clay and Lara decided t o build a storm shelter, a huge concrete room, on the back of the ir mobile home. They reasoned that a concrete room would provide a secure pl ace not only for their family but for extended family and neighbors during a storm and provide a place for them to live until they could scrap their mobile h ome completely. Only one room of their mobile home was fit to live in. Then, the Deans determined to think big. They wanted a home that would accommodate everyone, so they decided a 3,500 square hom e would be perfect. They reasoned that LaraÂ’s parents were getting older, and would eventually need a place to come to in a storm. Besides, Lara was nervous about being in a wheel chair, and not being able to run if a storm developed suddenly. The Deans envisioned a home that everyone could come to because Â“ you donÂ’t want to be by yourselfÂ” in a storm and you do want to be where you can Â“help peopleÂ” (T5, p. 22). But no organization would help them, even w ith their good credit rating because they thought the house was Â“too luxury of a hom eÂ” (T5, p. 37). The Deans began building anyway with what they had. But their good intentions fell under suspicion. Everyone started to que stion them on how they could afford it. Clay got tired of people asking, Â“Whe re do you get all your money from? You donÂ’t have a regular job. You donÂ’t have a big income coming in. WhatÂ’s going on here?Â” (T5, p. 23) Clay told them, Â“I just took what resources I had and ju st went with itÂ” (T5, p. 24). Clay had learned to do that early in life. His real dad was an alcoholic and
125 his stepdad was a bank robber. His brother is an addict wh o used to steal the family money for food. His grandparents raised him. H e grew up on a dead end road and was poor. So, he set goals for himself because he could see that ro bbing and stealing didnÂ’t pay. He told himself, IÂ’m going to gr aduate from high school with my class, and he did. He knew without a doubt that if h e set a goal, he would make it, especially with the love and support of Lara and their sons. The hurricane just added to ClayÂ’s confidence. He told Lara, Â“I feel like Charley made me smarter. I never doubt what to do. I wonÂ’t be standing, waiting on the tree to fall on meÂ” (T5, p. 41). He felt str onger emotionally and mentally because he now knew what happened in a hurricane and wh at to be prepared for. Lara understood how Clay felt about taking hold of li fe. She knew he was a selfÂ–made man. He had chosen early in life not to f ollow in the footsteps of his family. He told her frequently how happy he was that she had introduced him to the Lord. Together, they felt blessed to raise their sons in a Christian home. Using their faith to bolster them, the Deans began con structing their home, paying as they built. Clay gathered resources and began his 18 by 52 feet concrete room in the back of their original home. They laid a foundation, framed the walls, put on a roof, and air conditioned the spac e. They installed electricity and water. The Deans moved into the concrete room. The concrete room was livable, but their plan to build a 3,500 square feet home was stalled by their dwindling resources. Clay was co nsidering
126 panhandling because he couldnÂ’t get support from any or ganization to build a safe house for Lara. Finally, he found RPAD. RPAD pr ovided materials and volunteers to help build the house. With that help, t he DeansÂ’ home started to take shape. The house remains a work in progress, but the Deans plan to finish it within the year with 2,500 square feet of living space and 3,500 in total. The house is finished on the outside but the inside remains one huge unfinished room. They still live in the concrete room, and talk ab out the day Lara will have a wheelchair accessible shower, and plenty of space to focus on healing. The Thomas Family Kate, age 46, single, divorced, and disabled from a me dical condition that induces terrible migraines, kept an eye on the weathe r channel as she held the telephone to her ear and listened to Joe, age 16, th e youngest of her three children, on the telephone. Fluffing her medium leng th brown hair from her face, she leaned back in her well-used recliner in her spacious f amily room in Lakeland, Florida, and took in the cluttered comfort o f her room when the dramatic music from the weather channel caught her atten tion. Caught between listening to Joe and hearing the updat e, she interrupted Joe and parroted the weather information to him: Â“Joe the latest update on Hurricane Charley just came in. Charley is strengthening to a Category 4 and has changed paths. ItÂ’s not heading to Tampa Bay but making landfall near Port Charlotte and heading straight toward Lakeland. Winds might be as high as 90 miles per hour when it gets to usÂ” (Pasch et al., 2005) Kate raised her voice to a
127 light hearted pitch, as she told Joe, Â“ItÂ’s time for a hurricane party. Better call your sisters; tell them to come home now.Â” Kate paused as she listened to Joe and then said, Â“Of c ourse, Joe. You can all bring your friends. You know everyone is welcome at your mommaÂ’s house. WeÂ’ll have fun.Â” Kate hung up the phone and then grabbed a pen and p ad of paper and began to write a menu that would feed a crowd. Worri ed about Charley, but happy that her children and their friends would be com ing, Kate thought about how everyone would feel safer at her house. It made h er feel good to know that when something scary was happening, her children came to her. Really, though, Kate reflected, Charley will be nothing compared to w hat I experienced as a child. Funny, she thought, how the past comes back during stressful times. Kate closed her eyes as she remembered being 8 years old and her daddy running hell bent for leather up the road to their wood frame house in Auburndale, Florida, where she and her four siblings w ere standing watching a dark funnel cloud whirl around and around. Almost to the house, Daddy screamed, Â“Get in the house.Â” They had never seen their daddy run and scream like that so they all ran into the house, except for her little brother who was so scared he crawle d under the car. When daddy found that her brother wasnÂ’t with them, he ra n back outside, pulled him from under the car, and carried him into the house. Th e whole house was shaking and everyone was screaming and hollering under t he dining room table
128 until Daddy yelled, Â“Get into the bathroom.Â” Moment s later, after everyone was in the bathroom, half of the house was ripped off. Kate shuddered as she thought what would have happen ed if they hadnÂ’t moved to the bathroom. Â“Oh well,Â” she said aloud, Â“th at was in the past and I survived.Â” Shaking off thoughts of the tornado that almost killed her and her family when she was a child, Kate moved to the game cupboard to check for the Monopoly game. Talking to herself, she vowed, Â“IÂ’ll kee p my kids and their friends busy with games, food, and music so everyone stays positive.Â” Staying positive was the only way to beat Charley, she thought as she heard Joe, her daughters, and their friends enter through the front door. She hurried to welcome them to the hurricane party, as the afternoon light b ecame gray. Soon the party was in full swing with 20 young adults and teenagers. Kate was pleased that even her niece and her boyfriend came to stay at the house. Everyone was laughing, and having a grand time with loud music, board games, and KateÂ’s special taco dinner. The noise increased beca use hail balls started to come down outside. Some of the teenagers got a little wild and went outside Â“like idiots trying to catch hail balls until they started get ting really hit by themÂ” (T3, p. 21). Kate opened the front door slightly and yelled, Â“Get in the house.Â” She got them interested in the board games again. But hours la ter, after dinner, the board games were abandoned, and everyone was drawn to the w indows as the winds kicked up and water flooded the street and into their y ard. When bricks started
129 flying through not one but three windows and the pow er went out, everyone started to scream and then laugh. Laughing is good, th ought Kate, as she supervised taping up the other windows with plastic bags to make sure no one got hurt and switched on the battery powered lanterns Thankful no one was injured, Kate tried to stay upbeat and positive for h er childrenÂ’s sake. Still, this is scary, she thought. What am I going to do without money to pay the deductible on my homeownerÂ’s insurance? How can I afford it on my disability income? KateÂ’s divorce had just been finaliz ed, and the house had been signed over to her. Her house was all she owned. Trying to keep calm because the alternative was panic and not wanting her c hildren to see her upset, she decided to get busy. Handing out food and blankets helped, but when she ha d a moment to herself, she slipped away to the bathroom to cry at t he thought of losing her house and what the future might bring. After crying, she said a prayer, and returned, acting as if everything was fine. I have to be strong for my children, she thought. Kate concentrated on having a positive attitude as sh e smiled her way through the early morning hours before Charley stoppe d. She silently told herself, Â“Life is too short. Laugh about everything, no matter what damage you find. Life will go on.Â” She gained courage by watching her childr en fearlessly play games and laugh while Charley swirled around the house. Ev en though Kate offered beds and couches, no one wanted to sleep. So, she continu ed trying to maintain a positive atmosphere.
130 She hummed the song her Christian grandmother taught her as a child, Why Worry When You Can Sing In her mind, she heard her dadÂ’s words after the tornado demolished her childhood home, Â“ItÂ’s okay, weÂ’re going to rebuildÂ” and thought about the beautiful pink purple crepe myr tles he had planted next to her driveway years ago (T3, p. 33). Would the plants survive Charley? No matter if the plants donÂ’t survive, Kate thought, as she passed out chips to her children. She reflected on what she had taught her children: be strong and be there for one another. Done with refle ction for the moment, she dealt with practical matters. She told her children, Â“ Eat the ice cream in the refrigerator because that will melt first if the power is off for long.Â” When the batteries ran out for the lanterns, Kate lit candles an d commented on their lovely scent. Finally, Charley stopped a few hours before dawn, and everyone settled down for a short rest. In the morning, Kate ventured outside to assess the damage. Half of the enclosed side porch that ran the le ngth of her house was gone, a chained grill had disappeared, parts of the r oof of the house were laying in pieces in her neighborÂ’s yard, and the piece attach ing her electrical lines to the power pole had ripped off. Kate knew how the system wo rked: she would have to document everything for her homeownerÂ’s insurance. With Joe helping, Kate wrote everything down, as everyone left for their ow n homes. Later that day, Joe helped Kate pick up debris and put it by the curb. KateÂ’s daughters had gone back to their apartments to d eal with their own problems resulting from Charley. As Joe, lean and muscle d, energetically picked
131 up shattered glass, branches, and torn clothes from their yard, he told Kate, Â“DonÂ’t worry, Momma, IÂ’ll help you fix the house.Â” I must look worried, thought, Kate. Replying to Joe, she said, Â“WeÂ’ll get through this together.Â” Good thing I have a family t o support me, she thought. Her neighbors were friendly but involved in their ow n problems. That was fine with Kate. Kate always prided on being self sufficien t in the 25 years she had lived in her neighborhood. She was so involved with h er own family that it was nice to have friendly neighbors that she just waved to when she saw them. A few days later, watching an electrical crew working in her neighborhood in the hot August sun, Kate cheered as each neighborÂ’s h ouse was lit up with lights. Then it was time for her house, and when they attached her power to the pole, Kate thought with anticipation that perhaps she would have an impromptu party with her children and their friends to celebrate her electricity, even though her budget was maxed to the limit, and the food in h er refrigerator had spoiled without the grill to cook it. After they attached the power line to the pole, she tried her electricity, and nothing happened. She quickly went outside to catch the crew to find out what was happening with her electricity. The foreman tested her electrical panel and then gave Kate the bad news. Every electrical outlet and appliance in her house was burned out and would have to be replaced. As her heart sank with the news, she prayed silently to God, and asked for help. Â“What am I going to do?Â” she asked.
132 Taking comfort in her prayer, Kate knew she had to get busy fast. Using her neighborÂ’s phone, Kate got in touch with FEMA. An anonymous voice at FEMA said, Â“Do you have homeownerÂ’s insurance?Â” Kate said, Â“Yes, I have homeownerÂ’s insurance but it ha s a big deductible. IÂ’m a single parent on disability from Social Security. Â” The FEMA representative said, Â“You have to contact you r homeownerÂ’s insurance first. After you settle your claim with your i nsurance then you can contact FEMA.Â” Kate thanked the representative, hung up, and immedia tely dialed her homeownerÂ’s insurance company. Unfortunately, by the t ime her homeownerÂ’s insurance was contacted, receipts turned in, and a porti on of the damage was paid, FEMA was out of money. Her insurance simply didnÂ’ t cover all of the damage, so Kate looked for ways to stretch the money she had received. She asked contractors for bids and closely monitored their dr awings for the repair of her side porch and the roof of the house. She asked ques tions, took notes, and reasoned that she and Joe could do some of the work themse lves. Kate and Joe spent over two years rebuilding her side p orch. The contractor she hired to fix the roof did shoddy work and then went bankrupt. Her roof was leaking but her homeownerÂ’s insurance wouldnÂ’t cover re-doing it just because the work was inferior. No matter how positive Ka te tried to be, she felt she was just Â“a single parent on disability fighting wit h her homeownerÂ’s insuranceÂ” (T3, p. 9). Even getting the money from he r insurance to buy new appliances was a hassle. The insurance required that she buy the appliance and
133 then turn in the receipt. Kate didnÂ’t have the money on hand to buy anything so she had to work this out with the insurance company. Talking with the insurance company and working with Joe o n the side porch as much as her medical condition would allow, Kat e realized that she was the same person despite Hurricane Charley. Sitting in her recliner after a particularly frustrating day, Kate reflected on her fa milyÂ’s philosophy that Â“life is too shortÂ” so Â“you have to pull yourself up and keep g oing because if you donÂ’t, youÂ’ll end up like one of those people that never ge ts over anything and ends up going stir crazyÂ” (T3, p. 22). She made a promise to he rself and said it aloud, Â“IÂ’m going to laugh, and see people, and be thankful IÂ’m aliveÂ” (T3, p. 22). Four years later, Kate found RPAD and was provided wi th a new roof that was completed in April 2008. Kate threw a party for h er children and their friends to celebrate the new roof. As Kate passed out bowls of chips and glasses of soda, she chuckled when Joe, now age 20, told her, Â“Momma Charley was funny. I laughed the whole time.Â” Kate looked out h er front window and marveled that the crepe myrtles planted by her dad 29 years ago were blooming profusely. She offered a silent prayer of thanks and marveled how life goes on as her children called to her to join them in Monopoly. * * * * * In chapter 4, I report the findings of the thematic an alysis.
134 CHAPTER 4 THEMATIC ANALYSIS The disaster literature suggests three time periods with in a disaster that may contain factors that play a role in recovery: pre-disaster, within disaster, and postdisaster (Norris, 2001, p. 5). In this chapter, I describe the reoccurring themes and topics therein that may contribute to adversa rial growth, and I do so within the framework of the time periods, before, dur ing, and after a hurricane. I note similarities and differences in the themes and to pics that emerge across the three time periods. The themes that appear to be facto rs in recovery, and that may influence adversarial growth emerged from an anal ysis of the transcripts of the responses to questions asked individually of each pa rticipant during the narrative interviews and to each family in its family group interview. In the narrative interview, the questions were (a) t ell me your story of surviving the hurricane, (b) how did you survive durin g the hurricane, and (c) what coping strategies have helped you the most after t he hurricane. In the family group interview, two of the questions were aske d with an emphasis on the family as a unit. The questions were (a) as a family, h ow did you survive during the hurricane, and (b) as a family, what is the best wa y to cope after a hurricane when all the help has left.
135 Hurricane Time Periods In my discussion of the first time period, before the hu rricane, I explore getting ready for the hurricanes primarily from the responses to the question Â“Tell me your story of surviving the hurricane.Â” I examine t he theme of preparation and the topics therein that emerged from an analysis of the participantsÂ’ responses. I consider how preparation before a hurricane may influe nce or contribute to adversarial growth. In discussing the second time period, during the hurrican e, I examine the theme of survival that emerged from the responses prima rily to two questions: (a) how did you survive during the hurricane, and (b) as a family, how did you survive during the hurricane. I explore the topics intr oduced by the participants that contribute to survival and may influence adver sarial growth. In my discussion of the third time period, after the hu rricane, I describe the theme of coping and the topics that emerged primarily from the responses to two questions, (a) what coping strategies have helped you t he most after the hurricane, and (b) as a family, what is the best way t o cope after a hurricane when all the help has left. I examine coping and top ics introduced by the participants that may influence or contribute to adver sarial growth after a hurricane. Getting Ready Before a Hurricane Each participant, individually, and each family were quick to tell me in the interviews that getting ready before the hurricane is not only the key to survival but a contributing factor to recovery. Preparation was the main theme that
136 participants discussed, albeit in hindsight. Participants c onsistently recommended preparation as a way to help speed recove ry. Jane Smith said: This is my new mantraÂ—the best way to address your recover y is to better address preparedness. If you are smart and as possibly prep ared as you can be, your recovery is going to be expedited by virt ue of that. You canÂ’t plan for every contingency, but the more you prepare yourself and build in those contingencies the more quickly you are going to be able to recover. (T2, pp. 19-20) When participants were pressed for details on getting re ady before a hurricane, a broad definition emerged. Preparation was more than buying batteries and water, though that is important. Participants included physical, mental, and emotional components as a three-part process that is important to p reparation before a hurricane makes landfall. Physical preparation was described as attending to such basi cs as food, water, light sources, and a safe shelter. Mental prepara tion was characterized as understanding the havoc hurricanes may wreak on shelter, landscape, and life and developing some ideas on how to handle it. Emotio nal preparation was identified as an awareness of the emotions that one mig ht experience and having a social network of family and friends that can be summo ned for support. Without exception, the families in this study agreed th at getting ready before a hurricane was the best way to survive one. All families pointed out that they were prepared in some ways but in others were not as prepared before the
137 hurricane as they needed to be. In the following sectio n, I explore preparing physically, mentally, and emotionally before a hurrica ne. Physical preparation. The families agreed that food, water, light sources, and a safe shelter were absolute necessities to getting ready before a hurricane. Each family had reasons specific to their living situatio ns that influenced their decisions on these necessities. Generally, shelter was the first decision the families made, followed by food, water, and light sou rces, in no particular order. Shelter was of utmost importance to the participants, but how each family dealt with this issue depended on the type of home the y had, their location, and their relationships with family and friends, and on w ork-related issues. Location was a key issue, as coastal areas, especially barrier islands, receive evacuation orders first. In addition, regardless of location, occupa nts of mobile homes are one of the first to be issued evacuation orders when a hurricane is supposed to make landfall. Three of the families in this study were ordered to evacuate, but not everyone evacuated, even when other family membe rs asked participants to stay with them. The Brown family lived in a mobile home, and Kathy decided it was best to evacuate to her sisterÂ’s home out of the path of the hu rricane. But, her husband, David, could not be convinced of the severity of the sto rm and would not evacuate. He also wouldnÂ’t evacuate because of their dog s. The dogs didnÂ’t have anywhere to evacuate to, and he would not leave them behind. But, the additional factor in his refusal to leave their home w as that he was not welcome in the homes of KathyÂ’s relatives due to domestic viole nce issues.
138 Kathy offered to put him up in a motel, but he woul dnÂ’t do that because of their lack of money, and he wouldnÂ’t have been able t o take the dogs to a motel. So, Kathy packed some of the childrenÂ’s clothes, took pict ures of everything in their home including the weather channel on the telev ision with the date on it, and reluctantly left David. There wasnÂ’t much room in the car, so the children werenÂ’t allowed to take much. Kathy and the children worried about David during th e hurricane. But, even though the eldest daughter, Sue, worried about her dad, she thought he would be okay because he had friends who could help h im if he needed it. She also thought her dad refused to evacuate because he consi dered himself a macho man. Â“Manly men,Â” she said, Â“stay in the houseÂ” (T 1, p. 37). The members of the Smith family also had to leave the ir homes. Chuck and Betty lived on a barrier island. The bridge from the mainland to the island was being closed due to the hurricane. So, they had to decide whether to stay on the island for an indeterminate length of time, prob ably without water, electricity, and emergency help, or to evacuate. They decided to le ave after consulting with their local police. Then, they did the time consuming a nd dreaded tasks of preparing their condo for the hurricane. Luckily, they had close friends, Shelly and Joe Gray, who welcomed them with open arms. Their daughter, Jane, who lived a few hours away, had different reasons for havin g to leave the home of her friend, Jim, where she was living. In her case, the issu e was work, as JaneÂ’s boss asked her to stay at the emergency bunker to assist dur ing the hurricane.
139 The Thomas family not only stayed in their home but i nvited extended family and friends to join them. Kate reasoned that h er house was sturdy enough to survive the hurricane. Because she feels safer with her children around her, Kate had them come to her house. Her three children k now to come home if a hurricane is coming. The Thomas family has an open door policy with friends, so they were welcomed, too. Beth Allen stayed in her home against the pleading o f her children to evacuate. Even though evacuation would have been a go od choice for Beth due to her disability, and perhaps, the lack of sturdiness of her small home, Beth refused to leave. She would not consider leaving, even if it meant she died. Her pride in her home and her firm belief that the Lord would take care of her reinforced her decision to stay in her home. As an adult she thought it ought to be her decision to stay, and if she died, she said it w as her time to go. She was adamant about not leaving her home, and she prayed f or the Lord to protect her. The Dean family lived in a mobile home. Clay deemed their home unsafe for a hurricane. So, they evacuated to LaraÂ’s parentÂ’s home. Another factor in their decision was LaraÂ’s disability. She is confined to a wheelchair due to strokes and cannot tolerate high heat, so Clay prepare d the house, as best as he could, before the hurricane, and then they left for h is in-lawsÂ’ home. Carol White stayed in her home against the advice of h er best friend, Jill. Carol stayed because she had evacuated to JillÂ’s parentsÂ’ home several times for previous hurricanes. Hurricanes had bypassed their area, se emingly having made evacuation unnecessary. She didnÂ’t want to impose o n her friendÂ’s parents
140 again, even though she knew they were willing to hav e her as a guest again. Also, her home had been built by her father and had survived many hurricanes. People had often complimented her on the sturdiness of her home, telling her, Â“They donÂ’t build homes like this anymore.Â” Once the decision about shelter had been made, the fami lies decided on food, water, and light sources. Many of the families f elt they werenÂ’t as well prepared for these physical necessities as they should hav e been, and in hindsight, they stressed the importance of being prepare d in these areas. They cited financial reasons, a belief that the hurricane wo uldnÂ’t make landfall, and a misconception regarding what constitutes adequate prepar ation for their lack of physical preparation. Of these three reasons for not be ing prepared, the most often-cited reason was financial circumstances. Many of the families said they did not have the financial means to buy extra food o r to stockpile water and batteries. Carol White was realistic about her finances and physical preparation. Â“Well, being prepared is wonderful, but like on telev ision, theyÂ’ll say now you need batteries and you need this and you need that. [ But] if youÂ’re sitting here with no money,Â” you canÂ’t prepare well even if you w ant to (T6, p. 19). Carol did not have enough money to buy water or extra food an d spent the night of the hurricane huddled in darkness, while rain leaked through her roof, because she couldnÂ’t afford batteries for a flashlight. Kate Thomas found herself in similar circumstances, also due to finances. She said, Â“I wasnÂ’t really prepared as far as storing up for food and water and
141 stuff like that because, like I said, I was on disability and still am, but you know your money donÂ’tÂ—you canÂ’t buy itÂ” (T3, p. 18). So, K ate, like many of the participants, made do with what she had during the stor m. She learned that you have to be prepared and has been preparing slowly for the next hurricane. She said: IÂ’ve got two ice chests on handÂ—whether I use them or no t right now, IÂ’ve got them here. IÂ’m in the process of buying me a Cole man stove because thatÂ’s something else you really, really need. Â‘Cause I had a grill and I thought weÂ’d just grill out. Well, the hurricane took the grill. Then what you gonna do? (T3, pp. 18-19) The second reason the families mentioned for being unp repared physically was because they didnÂ’t expect the hurricane t o make landfall in their area. Even though the reports on the weather channel warned of a possibility for Hurricane Charley to make landfall in her geographic a rea, Beth Allen didnÂ’t think it would. On the television, Hurricane Charley looked like it was heading to the Tampa Bay area, but in the early morning, before la ndfall, Charley turned to go in through Charlotte County and advance towards Polk Coun ty. Beth didnÂ’t expect the hurricane to come, because, in the past, hurricanes a lways veered off and went around them and she lived inland, far from the coast and far from Tampa. To her surprise, in this case the hurricane shifted to g o toward her, unlike previous hurricanes: This time [the hurricane] hit us straight forward and a lot of people as myself wasnÂ’t really prepared because, back in then, I d idnÂ’t have a lot of
142 water. I had canned goods and stuff, I had some waterÂ—w asnÂ’t able to get a generator. (T4, p. 8) Beth didnÂ’t have enough batteries for a flashlight, so when the electricity went off, she had to feel her way down the hallway of her house in the dark. The final reason participants werenÂ’t as well prepared as they could be was because they had misconceptions of what adequate prep aration means. Betty Smith thought she was prepared but found she di dnÂ’t understand what was important to physical preparation. She had canned tuna and salmon, but realized, after staying with her friends, the Grays, who had batteries, flashlights, good food, and a portable television, that she was woe fully under prepared. She said, Â“It would have been difficult if we had to liv e for those four days on what we had saved. We could have, but boy, it would have bee n very unpleasantÂ” (T2, p. 48). The Dean family was prepared physically and was quite p roud of that fact. They had a generator that had enough energy to powe r a small television and a window air conditioning unit for one room. They had plenty of canned food and water. Being physically prepared helped the Deans retur n to a somewhat different, normalcy in their home late at night afte r the hurricane passed. Clay said, Â“That night we had the TV going and fans. We cut [out] one of the windows [to] put [in] the air conditioner. We made like a lit tle campÂ” in one room of the house and slept there (T5, p. 18). Being physically prepared before a hurricane is importa nt to basic survival during a hurricane, and in some cases, as with the Dean family, after the
143 hurricane. But it is only one component of preparation. Some families found they were physically prepared, with enough food and water for the hurricane, but discovered they werenÂ’t mentally prepared for the dev astation of their home. Other families had suggestions on how to prepare mental ly for a hurricane. Mental preparation. All of the families agreed in theory that it was important to be mentally prepared before a hurricane But they disagreed about whether it was possible to be mentally prepared. Some of the families werenÂ’t sure how to prepare mentally for something you had nev er experienced before. Other families had suggestions for mental preparation. The Dean family thought mental preparation was impor tant but were unsure how to go about it. Clay Dean said, Â“I think w hen it comes to disasters, youÂ’re not really prepared. You can have money or w ater and plenty of food, but youÂ’re not prepared for the things that can happen, you know, your house getting totally wiped outÂ” (T5, p. 35). Kathy Brown, who sustained major damage to her home, echoed the same sentiment. Kathy was shocked to the core by her first look at her home in daylight. Kathy said, Â“I think we thought we would b e back. I donÂ’t think any of us expected what we gotÂ” (T1, p. 152). Jane Smith suggested education as the key to mental pre paration before a disaster. Understanding what the community offers in t erms of resources that a family can use if their home is damaged or destroyed i s important to mental preparation. Just being educated about the possibiliti es for help can go a long way in helping a person prepare mentally for a disaste r because it creates an
144 action plan for the family. Jane used the example of h er home insurance and linked it to being mentally prepared. She said: Understand exactly what you are covered for . .Th is is how I grew, I became better educated in how to protect myself personal ly and I shared this information with others . .IÂ’ll give you an example, insurance coverage. I had full replacement cost coverage, which m eans when I lose things, in my mind, they are going to pay me what i t costs to replace it today. When I read the really really small print, go t through to the meat of what my policy wasÂ—and so from that I learned educate yo urself on everything on what your policy says. (T2, pp. 19, 20-2 1) Jane not only encouraged understanding oneÂ’s insurance bu t also knowing what resources a community offers and what you are entitled t o receive. She said: You know, if you need FEMA assistance, file for it. ItÂ’s your tax dollars at work. And if they donÂ’t give you, you know, the finan cial you should be receiving in term of adjusted worth, you can appeal th e process. There are free services available to walk you through, to navigat e you, through the whole recovery process. I think there are so many people out there who donÂ’t get that, and that is a new passion that I have developed, and that is to educate these people, educate, educate, educate. (T2 p. 21) Beth Allen reiterated what Jane Smith advised: Â“Get with support groupsÂ” (T4, p. 23). She thought it was important to stay Â“mentally focused and just readyÂ” because Â“we donÂ’t know what the futureÂ’s going to bring We donÂ’t know whatÂ’s going to happen between today and tomorrowÂ” (T4, pp 22-23).
145 Jane Smith wasnÂ’t the only one who advocated being savvy about insurance policies. Kate Thomas discovered that her porch, which spanned almost the entire back of her house and had been added over 20 years earlier to her house by a previous owner, had never been document ed. It was a homeownerÂ’s nightmare for her: It was never documented, and thatÂ’s where my problems b egan because IÂ’m living in a home. This is my house, but yet itÂ’s n ot documented. I had to pay to have it all documented, and then I had to fight with the insurance company, and thatÂ’s why itÂ’s taking us so long to still re build because they are not going to cover it. They only covered the pro perty damage that got damaged on the inside, but that was it, and so, IÂ’m s till having to fight for that. (T3, pp. 31-32) But it wasnÂ’t just KateÂ’s porch that was a problem. All of her appliances and electronics were wiped out by the hurricane. She ha d to produce the receipts in order to have them replaced. She found many of he r receipts had faded with time. She laminates her receipts now to preserve them. She said: Make sure you have everything documented and in a dry safe place in Ziploc baggies or whatever kind of seal proof, and lam inate stuff if you have to so it doesnÂ’t get damaged. I have now got a laminating machine, and I laminate things. (T3, pp. 31-32) Although the participants agreed that physical and ment al preparation is helpful in recovery after a hurricane, most of them ha d some lack in those two
146 areas. But the third component, emotional preparatio n, was another matter entirely. Emotional preparation. Each family drew upon a social network of family and friends to support them before the hurricane made landfall. Emotional support consisted of talking with one another, and in som e families, praying together. Families relied on communication with immedi ate family members, extended family, friends, and neighbors. In addition, some families with strong Christian beliefs communicated with God through prayer. The communications centered on alleviating fears and providing a positive attitude towards the unknown future. Communicating with family, friends, n eighbors, or God helped them keep their emotions on an even keel. The Dean family reassured themselves that they could ha ndle anything with the LordÂ’s help after they had evacuated their h ome and were driving in their truck to LaraÂ’s parentsÂ’ home. Clay said, Â“We just thank t he good Lord, but we just take it day by dayÂ” (T5, p. 42). Clay and Lara also alleviated ScottÂ’s fears when he wondered out loud about his job and what he would do for gas money if he lost his job. Lara, Clay, and Tim listened patientl y to Scott, and then Clay repeated their family belief. He said, Â“As long as y ouÂ’ve got your health, youÂ’ve got everythingÂ” (T5, p. 50). He added, Â“ThereÂ’s alwa ys a way to make moneyÂ” (T5, p. 50). The Deans used conversation to bolster and support one another before the hurricane. They also encouraged their fami ly to pray together and ask the Lord for help.
147 Beth Allen was in frequent contact with her children b efore the hurricane. She said, Â“My kids kept calling me, you know; they wante d to make sure I was near shelter or something in case, you know, it destroye d the house, you know, really bad. They wanted me to come to their housesÂ” (T 5, p. 2). But, although Beth refused to evacuate to her childrenÂ’s homes, she d id not refuse their emotional support. She said, Â“We were just praying to each otherÂ” (T4, p. 9). She prayed with her family and with her next-door neigh bor, Judy, until the telephone lines went down. And, then, she prayed alone. Carol White connected with her friend Jill on the tel ephone. They prayed together, and Carol felt comforted. She said, Â“You kn ow, relationships and communicating are so much more, you know. ThatÂ’s what w eÂ’re here forÂ” (T6, p. 32).Carol also prayed for strength to deal with whate ver happened. She said, Â“Because everything I have is nothing IÂ’ve done, it c omes from the Lord (T6, p. 31). Kate Thomas encouraged her three children to come hom e and bring their friends. Talking over things is important to the Thomas family. Kate said, Â“They all know to come to mommaÂ” (T3, p. 17). Kate told her children that they would get through the hurricane. She told them, Â“Just be str ong. Be there for each otherÂ” (T3, p. 26). She reinforced the idea of maint aining a positive attitude by telling her children, Â“WeÂ’ll have a hurricane party.Â” She planned to keep them active, so they didnÂ’t dwell on the approaching hurrica ne. The Brown family talked about the issues revolving arou nd their evacuation and the decision of David to stay in their h ome. Kathy reassured their
148 four children that their father would be fine because he had plenty of friends to help him if there was a problem. Arriving at her siste rÂ’s home with her children, before the hurricane, she found a party in full swing at a neighborÂ’s apartment. The children ran around playing with their cousins whil e Kathy and her sister were glued to the television set, waiting for weather updates and sharing their concerns with one another. Even though the families were not as well prepared ph ysically or mentally as they might have been, most were prepared emotional ly, which occurred by talking with friends and family members and through p rayer. In the next section, I describe how they reported surviving during the hurri cane. Surviving During a Hurricane Families described four actions that enabled them to sur vive during a hurricane, in addition to being in a safe shelter and having the basic necessities. The activities they said were helpful surviving during a hurricane were: (a) drawing on family, friends, and neighbors for continua l emotional support; (b) keeping occupied with a fun activity; (c) leaning on re ligious faith; and(d) listening to up-to-date information. Continual emotional support. The first actionÂ—drawing on family, friends, and neighbors for continual emotional support during the hurricaneÂ—was utilized without exception by all the families. Famil ies, friends, and neighbors were sought during the hurricane for emotional support Jane Smith made a new friend, Kathy, when she was at t he emergency shelter. Jane and Kathy actively supported one another as they shared the
149 experience of living at the emergency shelter. Jane also contacted her boyfriend, Jim, and her family, to give and receive emotional s upport when the telephone lines were available at the emergency shelter. Chuck and Betty Smith sought emotional support with their close friends, the Grays. The Smiths and the Grays comforted each other when the wind and creaking trees so unded ominous. Chuck and Betty also kept in touch with their family an d friends on the landline phone. Carol White talked with her close friend, Jill, when the phone worked. She prayed when the power went out and she found herself alone in the dark. She said, Â“YouÂ’re okay by yourself, maybe, but you can be t hat much stronger with other people around you and doing it togetherÂ” (T6, p. 9). Beth Allen was in frequent contact with her family an d her next-door neighbor, Judy, until the power went out. Kate Thom as drew her family to her house to ride out the hurricane. She let herself be d rawn into the comfort of the fellowship of her family and friends. Kate also summone d family for emotional support through childhood memories. She hummed the song her grandmother taught her as a child to sing when she was worried. Kate even thought about how her father saved her and her siblings from a tornado when she was a child. She bolstered herself by thinking if Â“I survived that, I ca n survive anything.Â” Keeping occupied. The second action that families undertook was to keep everyone occupied with a fun activity during the h urricane. The Browns and the Deans each played games with their families during the hurricane to keep their minds and emotions away from dwelling on what m ight be happening to
150 their homes during the hurricane. The extended Brown family amused Sue, Ann, John, and Missy with silly teasing games, which Sue and An n recall with laughter. Ann said, Â“My grandma and grandpa will ju st make you laughÂ” (T1, p. 29). The Dean family reveled in the pool at LaraÂ’s paren tsÂ’ house until the wind became so strong they had to get out. Clay said, Â“We w ere swimming all the way up until it got bad, you know. They kept saying, Â‘Get out, get outÂ’Â” (T5, p. 21). Scott and Tim Dean laughed during the interview when they recalled swimming in the pool. The Smiths were kept busy by their friends, the Grays. T hey laughed and played card games, keeping the talk light. Chuck Smith s aid, Â“We passed the hurricane just playing cards and dominosÂ” (T2, p. 38). When the candles became a problem because of the smoke and a lack of fresh air i nside and the cordless phone became inoperable without power, they went to the neighborÂ’s to play cards and make calls in their master bathroom because it had skylights and a hard-wired telephone that would work without power. Betty said: This neighbor had one phone that was still hardwired, and it was in the master bath in the toilet. So we were sitting there a nd playing cards and making calls. Anybody who had phone service we could cal l out. (T2, p. 50) The natural light in the bathroom helped dispel the apprehension that may come when being shut up in a house for many days with the o nly light coming from candles and flashlights. The fun didnÂ’t stop with the card playing in the master
151 bathroom. Their menu provided comic relief. Betty said Â“IÂ’ll tell you we ate like kings because everythingÂ’s melting. One morning, maybe it was Friday morning or Saturday morning, we all had ice cream for breakfa st because it was melting like crazyÂ” (T2, p. 51). Kate Thomas created a party atmosphere for her three teenagers, her niece, and their friends, a group of 20 in all, thro ugh games, food, and positive conversation. Her goal was to keep them occupied and to retain a positive attitude. Kate thought that creating fun activities fo r her children and their friends not only helped them but also helped her stay calm. Sh e said: YouÂ’ve got to constantly think about who else is in the house and make sure theyÂ’re okay. Make sure the blankets are all here, make sure the foodÂ’s here, you know, and just keep everybody calm and laughing. Because, if not, then youÂ’re going to have panic and thatÂ’s one thing I didnÂ’t want. (T3, p. 27) Religious faith. The third action some families took was to lean on thei r religious faith for strength to counteract the fear of the unknown. Lara and Clay Dean centered their family through prayer, reinforci ng their belief that there wasnÂ’t anything they couldnÂ’t handle with GodÂ’s help. Lara said, Â“There is nothing too difficult for GodÂ” (T5, p. 29). Carol White drew on her faith in God, as she cuddled h er cat, Rose, and prayed in the darkness while rain dripped into her ho use. When Beth AllenÂ’s power failed, she relied on her faith in God to hel p her survive the night. She said:
152 The phone lines went dead, no one could get in touch with me, and I was just here in the house, just praying and asking God to keep me safe, and you know, and donÂ’t let anything happen to me or dam age to the rest of my home. (T4, p. 4) Jane Smith, also, drew on her faith in God and prayed nightly. Whenever Kate Thomas started to worry about her house, she ret reated to her bathroom to have a good cry, pray, and then put a smile on her fa ce when she re-joined the group. She drew strength from having been raised in a Christian family. Up-to-Date information. The final action that families took was to keep the news on constantly. The Smiths were fortunate to ha ve a portable television that ran on batteries when the power failed. Keeping track of the news comforted them because they stayed up-to-date with the hurricane Betty said: But, itÂ’s a pretty helpless feeling, though after it w ent through and, you know, that little TV was wonderful. We had a little r adio with batteries, and as I said, we would have survived, but it was so much bett er to see that little TV picture and see the people and they show yo u pictures of what was going on where they could. So that was very, very helpful to have that little TV rather than just the radio. (T2, p. 50) The Deans and the Browns had evacuated to their extend ed familiesÂ’ homes so they were able to watch the news. Looking at th e news alleviated their fears to some extent and also prepared them for the p ossibility of damage to their homes. For example, the Browns knew from watching the n ews that hurricane
153 winds in their neighborhood were mild, but they also knew that a tornado had been sighted in their area. Jane Smith was able to hear the latest information on the status of JimÂ’s neighborhood and of her parents, Chuck and Betty Smith on the coast through the emergency bunkerÂ’s communication system. This helped he r feel better when she was in the bunker with other emergency personnel dur ing the hurricane. Carol White, Beth Allen, and Kate Thomas found thei r fears intensifying when the power failed, and they lost contact with the outside wo rld. They all plan to have a radio or television that runs on batteries for the nex t hurricane. The families reported using four actions to survive duri ng the hurricane: (a) drawing on family, friends, and neighbors for cont inual emotional support; (b) keeping occupied with a fun activity; (c) leaning on re ligious faith; and (d) listening to up-to-date information. They explained that these actions served to keep them mentally engaged and their emotions in check. In the next section, I describe how they reported coping after the hurricane. Coping after a Hurricane Participants reported that coping strategies after the hurricane depended on the individual and the family. What helped them cope best might be different for someone else. They described nine sources of support t hat enabled them to cope after the hurricane: (a) the government, (b) char itable organizations, (c) homeownerÂ’s insurance, (d) family, (e) friends, (f) re ligious faith, (g) stories, (h) life perspective, and (i) music. HomeownerÂ’s insurance, which was discussed previously under preparation, is not discussed in this sect ion.
154 Government. A financial support system was important to help participants cope after the hurricane. With homes severe ly damaged or destroyed, spoiled food, water in short supply, and jo bs that might no longer exist, participants needed financial help. Generally, contacting FEMA was the first source of support that participants described they use d to cope financially after the hurricane, unless they had homeownerÂ’s insuran ce. Not one participant reported that FEMA helped them c ope best after the hurricane, but everyone had something to say about FEM A. The participants described emotions from gratefulness to anger regarding their dealings with FEMA. All the participants reported that no matter ho w they felt about FEMA that FEMAÂ’s financial assistance, though helpful, was inadequa te for their needs. The Brown family, who lived in a FEMA trailer for 6 months, had mixed feelings about FEMA. Kathy Brown was supportive of FEM A, saying Â“I felt FEMA did what they could doÂ” (T1, p. 109). Kathy thought the people who complained about FEMA didnÂ’t realize how restricted FEMA was in 2 004 and 2005 due to laws that limited the payout on a home. She said, Â“F EMA had their hands tied, and I donÂ’t think anybody knows thatÂ” (T1, p. 139). Sh e explained, Â“I think people expected a lot from FEMA and they did work fairÂ” (T1, p. 138). Because Kathy understands disasters so well, she jokingly said, Â“Maybe I will apply for [a job at] FEMAÂ” (T1, p. 137). Even though Kathy thought FEMA did what they could f or her family, she described going to FEMA and getting the trailer as a Â“ nightmareÂ” due to the crowds at FEMA (T1, p. 93). The FEMA trailer ended up being a Â“fiascoÂ” for the
155 Brown family (T1, p. 93). After 6 months of the Brow ns living in the trailer, FEMA asked for it back. It did not matter that the Brown hom e wasnÂ’t finished and David had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his brain. Sue said, Â“FEMA really wasnÂ’t helping us at allÂ” (T1, p. 48). SueÂ’s sister, Ann who was 10-years-old, remembers how small the FEMA trailer was and the fun s he had playing games in it with Sue and her friends. The Smith family discovered inequities with FEMA. Jane, in her professional role as a long term recovery manager, foun d her work personally rewarding to help people pursue what they rightfully deserved from FEMA. More than once, she had to speak to her FEMA liaison and de mand that FEMA meet their obligations to her clients. Caught in the middle she also became personally burned out when people tried to take advantage of th e system. Betty Smith noted inequities in the water distributi on system. She explained: When we heard about those trucks that hit the border, t here were only so many, I think five, dispersed to this area carrying tha t water. We heard, after the fact of course, that the trucks that were suppose d to go out to Belle Glade and some of those poorer areas didnÂ’t get there. They were at someplace else, and people were without water. So it r eally sort of put things into your head and heart that sometimes . t he neediest people are the ones that donÂ’t get the help they need. (T2, p. 62) Betty and Chuck had plenty of water and a car that th ey could drive to get more. They saw a story on the television about a woman with children who tried to get
156 water for other families from Belle Glade that did n ot have cars. The distribution center wouldnÂ’t give her the water because the rule w as Â“two cases per carÂ” (T2, p. 65). Betty said, Â“The rules shouldnÂ’t be so hard and fast especially when these people need water with children involved (T2, p. 65) Betty was upset. She said: ItÂ’s kind of shocking to reinforce what you basically real ly know, that in this world and in life generally, things are not fair. Bu t, sometimes when you see it so close to home and how it happens, you think, w ow. (T2, p. 62) Kate Thomas was disappointed that she didnÂ’t receive FEM A assistance. Because she had homeownerÂ’s insurance, she was told to app ly for that first. She said, Â“We had homeownerÂ’s insurance and that had t o cover it first before they [FEMA] would step in. The homeownerÂ’s insurance p aid only partially, but, by the time the homeownerÂ’s insurance got through, FEM A was out of fundsÂ” (T3, p. 36). To make matters worse, she reported using a roofing company that was suggested by FEMA to repair her flat roof. The roo fing company did a poor quality job, and KateÂ’s roof leaked. Unfortunately, the roofing company went bankrupt, and her insurance company wouldnÂ’t cover the roof because of the poor workmanship. Kate said: I had to hunt these people [the roofing company] dow n. TheyÂ’re out of Texas and I finally found them, but they filed bankru ptcy. So here I am, a single parent on disability and having to fight my ho meownerÂ’s insurance. I finally found a program [Rebuild Polk After Disaster] in Lake Wales, but it took me from August of last year  until the end of April this year  to get my flat roof fixed. And they finally just got it fixed. (T3, p. 9)
157 Beth Allen was thankful for FEMA. FEMA helped her fi nd a hotel room that she could stay in for a few days after the hurricane. Th e hotel wasnÂ’t up to her Â“standards, but at least they had lights and waterÂ” (T 4, p. 5). She was also grateful to receive $1,400.00 from FEMA to repair th e damage to her home. The money wasnÂ’t enough to cover all of the damage, but sh e used it to fix what she could. She felt blessed that she was able to find people that Â“came out, did a good job, and didnÂ’t charge a lot of moneyÂ” (T4, p. 7). The Dean family had mixed opinions about FEMA. Lara felt the government just didnÂ’t do enough. Clay thought that the employees at FEMA just didnÂ’t care about other people. He said, Â“They were there for the money, and they didnÂ’t do their work properlyÂ” (T5, p. 35). He cited a situation where FEMA accused him of using their trailer when Clay had not use d it. Scott felt good that FEMA came to his neighborhood and handed out water an d ice. Carol White received a small amount of money for her severely damaged home from FEMA. She was disappointed because the money wasnÂ’t even enough to repair the roof on her home, let alone th e damage inside. She was frustrated because Â“people with trailers got a huge a mount of money, and this structure is home to meÂ” (T6, p. 23). Charitable organizations. Participants reported they used charitable organizations as a support system after the hurricane in order to secure food, water, clothing, and furniture, and to repair their homes. This was generally the second source of support that participants used to cope f inancially when the government resources had been exhausted.
158 Five families reported using Rebuild Polk County After Disaster (RPAD) to repair their homes. RPAD is a nonprofit organization that aids volunteers and communities to help low income homeowners. The families explained that RPAD was instrumental to them in coping with the repair of their homes years after the hurricane. The Browns had the inside of their house re paired. The Thomas family had their flat roof fixed. Beth Allen had her roof replaced and was scheduled to have her kitchen ceiling patched. The Deans received mat erials for the new home they are building and some volunteer labor to h elp in that process. Carol White had her roof, ceilings, and insulation replaced and the structure of her home repaired. The families were grateful and thankf ul to have found RPAD, but they reported different observations about the volun teers that RPAD used to help them. Kathy Brown had twelve volunteers work a total of 333 hours on her house. She thought the volunteers were great except t hey needed to be more careful with the supplies she had on hand. Some volunte ers threw away a kitchen knob or a drill bit and didnÂ’t think anything of it. But to Kathy, every penny counted, and it was a big deal. She said, Â“That littl e drill bit costs $2.39 . I was at a point where I had to itemize everythingÂ” (T1, p. 130). Sue Brown loved what the volunteers did to her home, noting that Â“they re decorated everythingÂ” (T1, p. 72). Carol White was pleased by the work volunteers did in her home. She was so impressed by their beautiful plaster work on her ceili ngs that she took pictures. She was touched that the volunteers came from Canada. She said,
159 Â“The house came out for the betterÂ” (T6, p. 19).The participants described satisfaction with the repair of their homes, but food in the first few weeks after the hurricane was a problem. Participants reported that food spoiled quickly without electricity. They had to turn to a food bank, the Federal Food Stamp Disaste r Relief, and charities that were providing hot meals in order to eat. Participant s explained that the hot meals and fellowship provided by the charities kept thei r spirits up, but the food bank was a problem. Kathy Brown received Â“twelve cans of cranberry sauce, six cans of black-eyed peas, and kidney beans, . sauerkrau t, . and canned pumpkinÂ” (T1, p. 134). She still has those cans in her cu pboard for the next hurricane to use if her family is Â“starvingÂ” (T1, p. 1 33). She doesnÂ’t feel right about giving the food away. Although she was apprecia tive of the food, she would have preferred something her children would ea t and that would help them return to some semblance of normality after the hurri cane. Even the Federal Food Stamp Disaster Relief program was a problem because of the amount of paperwork to fill out. Carol White said, Â“ThatÂ’s a lot of the reason that people sit home and do not get help. The agencies . have certain protocols that they have to go through firstÂ” b efore people receive food stamps (T6, p. 17). Paperwork requires time, and thatÂ’ s what participants reported they didnÂ’t have after the hurricane. Another reason people donÂ’t seek help is their pride. Beth Allen said, Â“Never have too much pride that you canÂ’t go out and ask for help, because itÂ’s out there. I thank God that the places [charitable or ganizations] were there for usÂ”
160 (T4, pp. 26-27). Kathy Brown echoed the same sentiment : Â“You gotta be willing to accept it, willing to accept the need. You also gott a be able to lower your pride. ThatÂ’s a big thingÂ” (T1, p.124). She explained, Â“Beca use asking for help is not a nice place to beÂ” (T1, p. 125). Families found that many people wanted to donate clo thes to them. What people didnÂ’t realize is that the families didnÂ’t ha ve anywhere to put the clothes because their homes were severely damaged. Kathy Brown summed up the clothes issue best. She said, Â“They [survivors] donÂ’t need clothes. They [survivors] need food. They [survivors] need money. Com mon sense says . where are they going to put the clothes?Â” (T1, p. 131 ). Another issue with charitable organizations that sold fu rniture was the volunteers. The volunteers were often overly stringent and insulting. Volunteers behaved in this manner because they had been burned b efore by people taking advantage of their organization. Kathy Brown was giv en a $100 voucher for a couch at a charitable organization. She reported that when she went to the floor to pick it out, Â“The lady that worked there informed m e that there wasnÂ’t anything on the floor that I could get . because they coul d make more money off selling itÂ” (T1, p. 105). Kathy didnÂ’t think it was the organ ization that was a problem just the individuals working there. She said, Â“But I couldnÂ’ t understand when I brought all the information why they didnÂ’t understand my ne edÂ” (T1, p. 107). Family. Participants described emotional support as important af ter the hurricane. Some participants reported family support a s the best source of support to use to cope after a hurricane. Family suppor t was explained as talking
161 things over or helping one another. Scott Dean, who w as almost 16 years old when the hurricane destroyed his family home, explaine d that family support helped him cope best. He said: ItÂ’s all the way I see it. ItÂ’s all family support, you know. You know everybody says, Â“Uh, this happened when, and I did thi s.Â” Well, you canÂ’t live by that. You werenÂ’t with them when that happe ned, so you just have to take in what you saw and what you know and go on. So, the biggest communications that are helping yourself get through i t would be with your family that you spent that time with or went throug h that period of time with. Those are the people you can count on, you know. You need something, you can always ask them, or if you go and do something, you can always ask themÂ—things like that. (T5, p. 14) Scott wasnÂ’t the only participant that felt family supp ort was important. Sue Brown, who was almost 14 years old when her home was damaged by the hurricane, agreed: Â“Basically, the family helpe d usÂ” (T1, p. 71). Aside from SueÂ’s immediate family, her grandparents also helped. Neighbors and friends didnÂ’t do much to help the Brown family. SueÂ’s paren ts formed a team within their family by involving their children in repairing thei r home. Kathy Brown said, Â“The kids are dealing with the same situation. But, if theyÂ’ re not allowed to help, it makes them helplessÂ” (T1, p. 137). Kathy strongly advoca tes keeping children involved in the coping process after the hurricane. Beth Allen thought talking with family was important to the healing process after the hurricane. She said, Â“Just be thankful for h aving family,Â” and stay
162 connected to them (T4, p. 26). When BethÂ’s telephone w as working, she talked with her family many times throughout the day in the weeks following the hurricane. She said, Â“We gave each other hope . . It took a toll on everyone, so we just had to be up for each otherÂ” (T4, p. 33). Kate Thomas thought emotional support from the family was important to coping. Emotional support in her family was encourage d through listening, talking, and a positive attitude. She said, Â“Try to kee p the positive in you instead of all the negative and worry, because itÂ’s not going to help anythingÂ” (T3, p. 26). Friends. Some participants reported talking with friends as the best source of support after a hurricane. Being in daily cont act with her friends helped Carol White. She considers her friends her family. The Â“moral supportÂ” her friends gave her was the most helpful support she receiv ed after the hurricane (T6, p. 22). Her friends buoyed her spirits, and tha t helped her cope with her damaged home. Tim Dean, who was 12 years old at the time of the hur ricane, found his friends helped him the most even though he thought ta lking to family was important. He said, Â“ItÂ’s always good to talk to your f amily,Â” but his friends were most helpful (T5, p. 59). He explained, Â“You can tal k to your buddy aboutÂ” stuff that you donÂ’t want to talk to your parents about, an d your buddy would Â“understand youÂ” (T5, p. 58). Religious faith Some participants described their religious faith as the best source of support after the hurricane. Lara Dean h as a supportive family, but what helped her to cope best was her religious faith. She explained that God was
163 always available. She said, Â“Cause, you know, I can alw ays talk to God. HeÂ’s always thereÂ” whenever I needed to talk (T5, p. 34). Lara used prayer as a means to provide strength and hope after the hurricane Kate Thomas also used her Christian faith to provide ho pe and strength for her family. Raised in a Christian household, she re called memories of her grandparentsÂ’ strong faith and their positive attitude This strengthened her resolve to stay positive. Beth Allen leaned on her religious faith to cope afte r the hurricane. She has a strong faith and is strengthened by it daily. She was thankful and grateful to God throughout the coping process. She said, Â“I tha nk God for the help and advice I gotÂ” (T4, p. 29). Stories. Some participants considered listening to stories from friends, family, neighbors, strangers, and celebrities as the bes t source of support that helped them cope after the hurricane. Other participan ts did not find listening to stories helpful. Chuck Smith liked listening to stories about the hurricane : Â“Everybody had a story to tell about their experiences during the hur ricaneÂ” (T3, p. 43). He explained that they talked about Â“how they got thro ugh it and all the inconveniences they had to go through [and] if anybod y was injured or hurtÂ” (T3, p. 43). He found it interesting Â“to hear different t hings that people had to go throughÂ” (T3, p. 43). He also learned from the storie s about how to handle different situations.
164 ChuckÂ’s daughter, Jane Smith, found the stories case manag ers told about their clients inspiring. After listening to the st ories of families Â“who had the wherewithal to take the blue roof off the house and cr eate a tent, and that is where they lived behind their house and, you know, o pened up the grill and invited the neighbors over,Â” she was inspired to continu e with her daily tasks at work (T3, p. 24). The stories helped her avoid burnou t and develop respect for her fellow human beings. She said, Â“It gave me a new and keen awareness of, and respect for, families who live that way every day, and . they donÂ’t fall apartÂ” (T3, p. 24). Kathy Brown found a support system in the lobby at FE MA as she exchanged stories with other hurricane survivors. She said Â“You have all these other people who are going through the same thingÂ” (T1, p. 129). Her daughter, Sue, however, found stories only minimally helpful af ter the hurricane. Sue has listened to her grandmotherÂ’s stories, all her life usu ally from Â“Oprah or the newsÂ” (T1, p. 74). Her grandmother told her stories after t he hurricane and, Sue found them Â“kind of annoyingÂ” (T1, p. 74). Life perspective. Some participants reported that comparing previous experiences from their life to the hurricane put every thing into perspective for them and helped them cope best after the hurricane. Be tty Smith lost a dear friend to the hurricane. She mourns her friend and bl amed the hurricane for the friendÂ’s death. The death of her friend put the hurr icane into perspective for her: I think you have to realize when it comes right down t o the nitty gritty, I mean, life or death is the major thing. So, if you su rvive and youÂ’re alive,
165 then you have to be grateful for whatever benefits y ou have. Now, if you lost a lot of stuff, itÂ’s sad. Oh yeah, you donÂ’t want to lose your stuff but as long as you have your life. (T3, p. 74) This perspective supported Betty in the coping process be cause she was grateful to be alive. Clay Dean also drew on his life experiences to aid him in the coping process. He said: I look back on my grandparentsÂ—they lived to be an old, old age, and they never worried [about] retirement. They never worrie d about saving money . I went, wow, thatÂ’s pretty cool. You never worr y about nothing and glad you had food on the table. (T5, pp. 42-43) ClayÂ’s perspective on life enabled him to cope more easi ly after the hurricane. He emulated his grandparents and put worries aside. Kate Thomas found that her perspective of the hurricane was tempered with her memory of the tornado that she survived as a child. The hurricane, with all its problems, was nothing compared to being inside a house that was ripped in half by a tornado. Compared to the tornado, Kate fo und the hurricane was Â“a piece of cakeÂ” (T3, p. 26). Music. Listening to music was a source of support for one particip ant after the hurricane. Ann reported that listening to music hel ped her feel better. She said, Â“It [music] makes me happyÂ” (T1, p. 21). She expla ined, Â“I love music. I love playing instruments. I love dancing and stuff like that ThatÂ’s pretty much what
166 helps meÂ” (T1, p. 21). Listening to music provided a th erapeutic space for Ann that enabled her to cope better after the hurricane. Summary Each family contributed valuable insight regarding wha t influenced their recovery or adversarial growth. In the first time peri od, getting ready before a hurricane, participants reported that preparation was e ssential and affected survival and recovery from a hurricane. Preparation wa s a three-part process that involved physical, mental, and emotional preparation. In the second time period, surviving during a hurrica ne, participants referred to four actions that were helpful: (a) draw ing on family, friends, and neighbors for continual emotional support; (b) keeping occupied with a fun activity; (c) leaning on religious faith; (d) and liste ning to up-to-date information. In the third time period, coping after a hurricane, p articipants described nine sources of support that enabled them to cope after the hurricane: (a) the government, (b) charitable organizations, (c) homeow ners insurance, (d) family, (e) friends, (f) religious faith, (g) stories, (h) lif e perspective, and (i) music. Participants reported that different families may requ ire different activities or strategies in order to get through a hurricane. No specific method or source of support is going to work well for every person, althoug h communicating emotional support in relationships with family, frien ds, and neighbors was considered essential by each family before, during, and after the hurricane. In addition to relationships, some of the families boosted their emotional support through their strong religious faith. Each contributio n added to a broad
167 perspective of handling a hurricane that may influence or contribute to adversarial growth. In chapter 5, I examine the factor s that may influence recovery or adversarial growth among hurricane survivor s.
168 CHAPTER 5 ADVERSARIAL GROWTH In this chapter, I describe the findings regarding the third research question in this study, Â“What factors might encourage a dversarial growth after a disaster?Â” The factors that appear to influence adversari al growth emerged from an analysis of the participantsÂ’ experiences of adversaria l growth from the transcripts, audio-taped interviews, field notes, and th e responses to questions asked individually of each participant during the narra tive interviews. Each participant was asked to answer a number of questions abou t adversarial growth: (a) describe yourself before and after the hurricane; ( b) in your opinion, what good or bad emerged for you and your family after t he hurricane; and (c) did the hurricane disrupt your path or goal in life, good or bad? Participants reported a range of adversarial growth ex periences. Most reported experiencing some adversarial growth; some did not. Three participants said they experienced an even greater degree of growt h, which I am calling transformational growth Those that reported adversarial (or transformation al) growth linked their growth to specific factors that they believed encouraged it. I report the factors that may influence adversarial growt h that were mentioned by two or more participants.
169 Participants described eight factors in all that appear t o encourage adversarial growth: (a) emotional support, (b) worldv iew, (c) appreciation, (d) religious faith, (e) patience, (f) self-reliance, (g) teamwork, and (h) creativity Some participants reported that three or four factors w ere important to them and others reported even more. Each participant described a different combination of adversarial growth factors, but they defined them simil arly. They provided explanations and examples of situations regarding how they used these factors to grow following the hurricane. In the first section, adversarial growth experiences, I report the participantsÂ’ experiences of gr owth. Then, in the second section, adversarial growth factors, I discuss how the eight factors in adversarial growth contribute to positive growth. In the third sect ion, I discuss the relationships among the various adversarial growth facto rs, showing how some of the factors may be in tension or even seem to contrad ict with one another. Adversarial Growth Experiences The Brown Family Kathy Brown, age 44, mother and head of the Brown h ousehold with four children, Sue, age 16, Ann, age 14, and twins, John an d Missy, age 10, said that she grew stronger as a person. She felt tougher and mor e confident. She also thought her family had grown stronger. As a result, Ka thy said that she believed she and her family could withstand just about anything without falling apart, Kathy, who was 40 when the hurricanes hit, had always w anted to go back to college to finish her bachelorÂ’s degree. Four years lat er, she relied on her newfound strength and confidence and had enrolled in a program to complete her
170 degree. She credits her strength and that of her famil yÂ’s to appreciation, teamwork, emotional support, a positive attitude, det ermination, acceptance, worldview, self-reliance, creativity, and patience. Sue Brown, who was 12 when the hurricane damaged thei r home, described her positive growth as being sufficiently great that I designated it as transformational growth. After the hurricane, she said that she decided it was time to grow up and help her family by getting a jo b, so her mother wouldnÂ’t have to pay for her and would have more money for the bi lls. Before the hurricane, she wore black clothes and dressed in Goth fashion, and she re ported that people were afraid to talk to her because she acted so mean. Af ter the hurricane, she said that she changed her clothes and her demeanor in a positive manner to encourage relationships. She assumed more responsibility a t home and got a job. Now, at 16 years old, she holds a job, attends sch ool, and focuses on helping her family. She plans to go to college. Sue s aid that she became what she calls Â“the good oneÂ” in the family instead of the b ad one. She described appreciation, a positive attitude, teamwork, emotional support, and worldview as factors in her positive growth. Ann Brown was 10 years old when the hurricane upset her life. She believes now, at 14 years old, she has grown, but not for the better. Ann went from doing well in school to getting in trouble. Stil l, she said that she doesnÂ’t think it was the hurricane that affected her growth but rath er the death of her father. She credits a positive attitude for helping her family recover after the hurricane.
171 The Smith Family Jane Smith, in her mid 40s, described her growth as Â“lif e definingÂ” and what I call transformational growth (T2, p. 25). She said that she grew in her religious faith and changed her career direction. She said she considers religious faith, stories, worldview, and emotional support as h elpful factors in her growth. JaneÂ’s father, Chuck Smith, age 76, said he didnÂ’t thin k he had grown much except in learning how to handle a hurricane and in h is friendships. He credits emotional support, patience, and stories from other peo ple as helpful to his growth. ChuckÂ’s wife and stepmother to Jane, Betty, age 67, said she thought she grew in her understanding of the world. She descri bed emotional support, stories, appreciation, and worldview as factors in her g rowth. The Allen Family Beth Allen, age 55, said she grew stronger mentally in knowing how to handle future hurricanes. She said that her family gre w positively in emotional strength. Beth noted that she experienced growth not only within her relationships with family members but also in her relat ionships with her neighbors. She said, Â“Well, it definitely brought me and my family close, and it definitely brought me and some of the neighbors closerÂ” (T4, p. 24). She said: We have a closer bond, and, as you go through that a nd stand together, we had something that we can talk about and relate to, you know. It was really an experience that was just amazing, because I n ever went through that before, and then I could still talk about it toge ther in what we went
172 through with, you know, the destruction, the bad part and then what good came out of it. (T4, p. 25) Beth said that she feels bonded with her family and n eighbors because there was positive growth in their relationship. This i s significant because traumas often rip families, friends, and neighbors apar t. In contrast, it is common to feel a temporary closeness within relationships in a disaster. The growth Beth experienced in her relationships was not temporary. Four years after the hurricane, Beth has stronger relat ionships with her family and neighbors. Since the hurricane, Beth feels a s if her neighborÂ’s daughter is like her own daughter. The growth in Beth Â’s relationships appears to be linked to an increase in emotional support. She thi nks her strong religious faith, hope, appreciation, and emotional support with in her family and from support groups were factors in her growth. The White Family Carol White, age 62, said that she grew in her rela tionships with her friends and became mentally stronger in dealing with difficult situations. She believes she became more confident in handling lifeÂ’s t asks. She reported acceptance, patience, emotional support, and religious f aith as factors in her growth. The Dean Family The Dean family, Clay, age 46, Lara, age 46, Scott, age 19, and Tim, age 16, experienced positive growth individually and as a family. Clay said that he grew stronger mentally in how to handle things. He use d this mental toughness
173 to begin building a new house, an ambitious undertaki ng, after the hurricane. Always religious, Clay said that he found his relations hip with God deepening as he talked with Him on a daily basis to help him manage the damage on his mobile home and the subsequent building of his new ho me. He believes religious faith, appreciation, teamwork, self-reliance, patience worldview, creativity, a positive attitude, and emotional support were contrib uting factors to his growth. Lara said that she grew in her religious beliefs and t hought the hurricane was proof that God could handle anything. Growth in her religious faith strengthened her trust in God that she would recover h er health. She found religious faith, emotional support, and patience help ed her grow stronger in her faith. Scott described his personal growth in ways that led me t o call it transformational growth. Just 16 years old when the hu rricane damaged his home, he said that he realized that he needed to ste p up to the plate and help his family. He decided that first night when he saw their damaged home that he needed to grow up. He said that he left his childhood behind and assumed more responsibility within his family. He believes emotional support from his family helped him grow as a person. Tim was 12 years old when the hurricane shook his world. He said that he grew closer to his family and became more pragmatic. Ti m believes appreciation, self-reliance, positive attitude, teamwork, worldview, and emotional support were helpful to his growth.
174 The Thomas Family Kate Thomas, age 50 and head of the household, said that she felt she didnÂ’t necessarily grow as a person but saw the hurricane as building her familyÂ’s emotional reservoir. The emotional strength of her fa mily expanded as Kate used the hurricane to reinforce that her family could lean on and draw strength from one another during difficult times. Kate likes that her family knows they can seek one another out for emotional support for personal g rowth. Her son, Joe, who was 15 years old when the hurricane d amaged his home, thought of the hurricane as funny. I wasnÂ’t able to interview Joe because, Kate said, he is rather shy and felt he did not have anything to say. Kate credits religious faith, worldview, appreciation, positive atti tude, and stories for building the emotional strength in her family. Adversarial Growth Factors Emotional Support The participants in this study named emotional support as the most important factor in their recovery and adversarial gro wth. Participants defined emotional support as talking to one another in conversat ion. Talk was centered on emotional and practical issues. Emotional issues include d but were not limited to emotions of happiness, joy, sadness, and anger revolvi ng around their homes, keepsakes, relationships, and jobs. Practical issues centered on how to handle repairs or fill out paperwork. Participants looked for emotional support within the context of their interpersonal relationships, especiall y family and friends, who were turned to first for emotional support. Neighbors, support groups, and
175 strangers who were going through the same experience we re also sources of emotional support. Some participants thought stories wer e supportive and others didnÂ’t find them helpful. Family. Emotional support from the family was important to t he participants. Emotional support consisted of talking over feelings and explaining how to do practical repairs on their homes. Beth Allen and her family used emotional support to h eal each other and grow as a family. In their communication throughout th e day, they did not focus as much on tasks that had to be done such as repair window s but on supporting one another emotionally. Beth concentrated on her fam ily, asking them, Â“Are you okay?Â” Â“How do you feel?Â” rather than Â“Did the windo w repairman show up today?Â” The primary concern for Beth was the emotional needs of her family not her windows. Beth said, Â“We just found the healing pro cess, the whole family, because we all went through it. [Together] . emot ionally, we just got through itÂ” (T4, p. 33). The emotional support within BethÂ’s fami ly provided the energy to tackle the necessary tasks, and her windows were repaired i n a timely manner. It was important to Beth to help the children heal em otionally. Beth said, Â“Kids donÂ’t always understand. Why is this happening? Wh y did our home get destroyed?Â” (T4, p. 34). Beth thinks itÂ’s vital that Â“t he kids can look at the family being all together, the importance of them kept tog etherÂ” and talking it out together (T4, p. 35). Tim Dean, age 16, thinks that the emotional support e xchanged in his family revealed the strength of his family. He said, Â“ It showed who was who. It
176 showed how good the family was, how good we pulled to getherÂ” (T5, p. 55) and, as a result, his family members grew closer to one anoth er. TimÂ’s brother, Scott, age 19, believes the emotional support in their family helped him grow personally. Scott received emotional support from his family to help him deal with friendships that had changed as a r esult of the hurricane. After the hurricane, ScottÂ’s friends werenÂ’t the same anymore: People arenÂ’t the same after that. People want to act differently. They want to respond to you differently. They treat you d ifferent by the way you responded to that hurricane. Like, if their stuff was de stroyed and some of your stuff was fine, people tend to get jealous, you kn ow, see what you got versus what they got now all of a sudden. (T5, p. 2) Scott was dismayed that his friendships changed after the hurricane. Friends he thought would be there forever for him suddenly were jealous or werenÂ’t available. He said, Â“When youÂ’re down and out, you se e how people really act. You see whoÂ’s really there for you, whoÂ’d break their back for youÂ” (T5, p. 2). Scott talked over his friendships with his family and re ceived emotional support that helped him Â“laugh about itÂ” (T5, p. 6). Scott b elieves after a disaster, families may grow emotionally because they have to depend on o ne another. He said, Â“You grow as a family having to depend on each other, you knowÂ” (T5, p. 11). Scott considers the Â“emotional supportÂ” from his family as the most important factor in his individual growth (T5, p. 14).
177 Sue Brown, age 16, found emotional support from her grandparents very important. All her life, her grandparents have been Â“a real shoulder to lean on,Â” and they were there for her family after the hurrica ne (T1, p. 76). Friends. Chuck Smith mentioned as valuable the Â“relationships wi th friendsÂ” (T2, p. 43). He said, Â“We were blessed that som ebody had a house here in which we could go spend our timeÂ” (T2, p. 43). Recei ving emotional support from his friends during the hurricane and after in th e recovery phase helped him transition into repairing his home. ChuckÂ’s wife, Betty, found emotional support from friendships important too. She considers them lucky t o have friends that they can count on, and this made coping with the hurri cane much easier. Carol White considers the emotional support she received from her friends the most important factor in her growth. Her friends h elped her through their encouragement to her to keep going and to find the ag ency that could help her. Neighbors. Friends and family were not the only people import ant in providing emotional support for growth. Neighbors also provided emotional support by forming groups to help each other. This was e specially true in Carol WhiteÂ’s neighborhood. Carol said: My neighbor was sitting out on the front porch with h er phone and I spoke to her and went over. I said, Â“IÂ’m going uptown to a church. They say they have stuff up there.Â” She said, Â“My goodness, IÂ’ve bee n on the phone and I canÂ’t get a hold of any of my people that help me andÂ—well, weÂ’ll go together.Â” So, then we started going up to another ch urch . where the Salvation Army had ice. And it was, like, if we could d o that, we were
178 okay. WeÂ’re getting somewhere. We can see some light a t the end of the tunnel. (T6, p.13) Not every neighborhood provided emotional support. Clay Dean lamented the lack of support in his neighborhood. His son, Tim, believes it is important to remember that relationships donÂ’t always change in a di saster. Tim said, Â“Some people pulled together. Most of the people, you know, pulled together, but people that donÂ’t like you still donÂ’t like you. They still ma ke comments about you and everything. ThereÂ’s still going to be mean peopleÂ” (T 5, pp. 57-58). Hurricane survivors. Not only did Kathy Brown find emotional support by communicating as a team within her family, but she foun d a support system outside of her family as well. She said, Â“And when you sit at FEMA three days a week or sit in these agencies. . So, my support system would be the people that were actually going through the same thing that I wasÂ” (T1, pp. 128-129). Kathy found support from people who had gone throug h the same experiences helpful because they could understand what she was going through. This understanding helped her grow stronger to tackle the ta sks necessary to repair their home. Stories Participants reported that stories were communication fr om other people that were meant to inspire, give information and provide emotional support. Listening to other peoplesÂ’ stories helped Chu ck Smith grow after the hurricanes. He not only learned how to handle differe nt situations from the stories, but he empathized with other people through listening to their stories. Like Chuck, his wife, Betty, found stories helpful from p eople who were going
179 through the same situation or had experienced it. She said, Â“Someone else has gone through it. They certainly understand someone, ev en like me, whoÂ’s gone through itÂ” (T2, p. 68). Jane Smith found stories from her clients inspirational. The stories inspired her to grow her career in a different direction. Carol White found stories useful for their information Carol used the information to help recover from the hurricane. Stor ies gave her an avenue to seek more help in the recovery process. Kathy Brown found that listening to stories from other hurricane survivors encouraged her re covery and provided a support group. She believes that only people who have been through a disaster truly understand what it is like for survivors. Not everyone found stories to be an avenue to growth Sue BrownÂ’s grandmother often told her stories about people who had survived difficult situations, but Sue didnÂ’t find them especially helpful. Sue suggested, Â“[Family stories were] Â“all over the placeÂ” (T1, p. 75). Scott D ean didnÂ’t find stories helpful. He believes stories in the form of advice arenÂ’t useful because the people relating the stories arenÂ’t living in his situation. Support groups. What the participants often called Â“support groupsÂ” played a part in growth and recovery. They used the term support groups to refer to groups such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, FEMA, a nd RPAD. Beth said, Â“Those support groups are really wonderful because, y ou know, when you really need that, theyÂ’re there, and I thank God for thatÂ” (T4, p. 28). She encouraged people to take advantage of every line of help they could possibly find. She said, Â“I have a lot more peace of mind, and I feel that I Â’m going to be a lot more safe in
180 my home because of a lot of help that I got through the state and through the countyÂ” (T4, p. 31). Beth became aware of support gro ups when she became disabled and couldnÂ’t work anymore. She said: I never knew these organizations existed that were out there to help people in my condition. They can point you to this pla ce and that place . I donÂ’t like to be a burden on my family. I like to b e able to support myself, but when I got disabled, I wasnÂ’t able to. (T4, p. 30 ) The support groups provided emotional support so Beth co uld grow stronger mentally. Carol White believes support groups played a factor in her growth. She said, Â“I was working as a security guard back then at [na me withheld] under construction, and so I left my job at that time. My hou se was still broken. I just couldnÂ’t get over it, and I left my jobÂ” (T6, p. 8). Without a job, Carol spent her time trying to get help from FEMA and the Red Cross, which eventually led her to Rebuild Polk County After Disaster (RPAD). She thought this process made her stronger. She said, Â“Well, I can see why you get stronge r because it was reverting back and living day by day and having to de pend on other peopleÂ” (T6, p. 9). Carol found the hurricanes gave her a greater awareness of the value of bonding with other people, and she experienced posit ive growth through interaction with the support groups. Worldview Participants described worldview as a change in how they understood the world and their lives. Several participants found tha t their worldviews shifted
181 significantly, and this fostered their growth. Kathy Br own thought she had understood the world but realized that she didnÂ’t un til the hurricane. Kathy said, Â“I would say that I didnÂ’t know what the world was really all aboutÂ” before the hurricane (T1, p. 110). Kathy found her eyes opened t o what was important in life. Aside from feeling she had to grow up, Sue Brown said she found herself developing a pragmatic worldview. She said, Â“I realiz ed that IÂ’m not scared of death. IÂ’m not worried about all that stuff. If some thing bad happens, then it happens. ItÂ’s supposed to happen, and you just [handle] it [when it] comesÂ” (T1, p. 66). She feels stronger and able to deal with what life brings. Jane Smith said she found Â“a different perspective on li fe and generally what really mattersÂ” (T2, p. 13). Jane also found a ne w Â“respectÂ” for families that donÂ’t have the Â“internal infrastructure to bounce back and recoverÂ” but Â“the grace and fortitude to go beyond lifeÂ’s challenges like this [ hurricane]Â” (T2, p. 13). She explained, Â“They do it with dignity, and they donÂ’t allow race or prejudice or lack of education or skills. They learn how to bounce back on their own using whatever they haveÂ” (T2, p. 13). Before the hurrican e, Jane characterized herself as Â“a very accepting person,Â” and after the hurricane, Â“ cautiousÂ” (T2, p. 19). In contrast to the families for whom she gained new resp ect, Jane also witnessed Â“families who wouldnÂ’t do anything to help t hemselves and just wanted government handoutsÂ” (T2, p. 13). One incident in par ticular upset and frustrated her, a family of two parents and mostly teenage childr en who were sitting in lawn chairs drinking beer waiting for someone to bring them free food. Jane thought
182 they were trying to take advantage of the system, and she coined the term Â“system milkersÂ” to refer to them and others like them (T 2, p. 19). So, for Jane, the shift in her worldview contained good and bad el ements that fostered her growth in relationships with people. No matter how good her situation during the hurricane Betty Smith said she wouldnÂ’t choose the experience again, but it did open her heart to the inequity in the world. Her worldview was challenged b y the inequities that she witnessed in water delivery. She said: Well, I think, you know, I wouldnÂ’t choose that wayÂ—that experience again, but I think after youÂ’ve been through it, you realize you can survive such things, or there are things you can do that will he lp, and you realize how vulnerable a lot of people are. (T2, p. 62) As her heart opened up to the people in Belle Glade who werenÂ’t brought water, Betty realized her situation wasnÂ’t so bad in compariso n. She said, Â“Boy, these people really had it tough. I thought I had it toug h, but I had it much better than theyÂ” did (T2, p. 62). As hurtful as the discovery was about his friendships, Scot t Dean said he couldnÂ’t take time to dwell on it because his family nee ded his help with their home. This changed Scott. His family needed him. He said Â“I had to be there to help out, so I had to step up tooÂ” (T5, p. 10). Scott needed to grow up quickly to be there for his family. He said, Â“It made me grow me ntally and physically. It made me smarter and more responsibleÂ” (T5, p. 10). S cott feels that his growing
183 up has Â“mentally preparedÂ” him for the next hurricane so he will know what to do in the event that a hurricane is coming (T5, p. 10). The hurricane encouraged Clay Dean to draw on his worl dview learned not only as a child in surviving a difficult childhoo d but in working through trying times as an adult. When the hurricane damaged his home, Clay drew on lessons learned in handling adversity in the past. Â“We learne d, even when our situation [his wife LaraÂ’s strokes] happened to us. We learned it was a tragedy, but we didnÂ’t pay no attention to it. We just kept right on moving on,Â” even though he lost his job in order to become LaraÂ’s caregiver (T5, p. 36) He applied that same worldview to the hurricane: Learning to survive and IÂ’ve learned from it through this. IÂ’ve learned from it. And thatÂ’s what I tell her [Lara]. I said, Â“We ar e truly blessed.Â” I said, Â“Yes, weÂ’re going through some hard times,Â” and thatÂ’s what we tell the boys. (T5, p. 48) Although Lara DeanÂ’s faith was strengthened by the hur ricane, her worldview changed. She was dismayed that looters were g oing through their things immediately after the hurricane. She said, Â“It was awful. People were already having difficulties from the hurricane, but, o n top of that, they were stolen from, and to be ripped offÂ—that was awfulÂ” (T5, p. 30 ). A person stealing was not easy for Lara to shrug off. To this day, that emerges as bad for her from the hurricane. That people would steal from other people in such a difficult situation was unthinkable to her. Her worldview changed negativel y. She became aware of how some people take advantage of other peoplesÂ’ mi sfortunes. Her son, Tim,
184 found his worldview grew from the hurricane, and he b ecame pragmatic. He said, Â“Before, I was, like, okay, then after the hurricane, it ainÂ’t no joke. Got to have money and always get on top of theÂ” situation (T5, p. 55). Kate Thomas said she found the hurricane reinforced he r familyÂ’s worldview. She said, Â“You know, we have the attitude, life goes onÂ” (T3, p. 20). She explained: There are some things that you just cannot erase out of your mind. There are some things you canÂ’t . ever forget, but our philosophy is life is too short. You know, you have to pull yourself up and kee p on going Â‘cause if you donÂ’t, youÂ’re going to end up like those people who cannot get over anything, and thatÂ’s all they dwell on. And, if you do that, youÂ’re going to end up going stir crazy. You know, weÂ’re the kind of peo ple who laugh about things because, if you donÂ’t, you know, it gets yo u in that rut to where you donÂ’t want to talk to people, you donÂ’t wa nt to see people. Just leave me alone. LifeÂ’s too short. YouÂ’ve just got to ke ep going. Yeah, things happen, but be thankful youÂ’re alive. (T3, p. 22) Appreciation Participants reported that appreciation involved being thankful for the little things and the big things in life. Appreciation encoura ged a positive attitude in the present and in turn, fostered hope for the future. K athy Brown said that before the hurricane Â“I would say that I didnÂ’t appreciate w hat I hadÂ” (T1, p. 110). Now she appreciates every little thing. She said, Â“There w ere things that you just learned to appreciate that just amazed youÂ” (T1, p. 165). Kathy named slushes
185 from a nearby convenience store as one of those items. T he slushes, cold icy drinks in different flavors, provided a wonderful trea t in the hot weather after the hurricane. Kathy also appreciated people like the manag er at the restaurant that she worked at who gave her ice when he could have made m ore money selling it. Appreciation fostered positive growth in Kathy. Sue Brown developed a deep appreciation for what she has and recommends that people should Â“be thankful for what yo u got. Even if, I mean, bad stuff happens, good stuff happens, but, in the end youÂ’ve got family, youÂ’ve got friends. EverythingÂ’s fineÂ” (T1, p. 69). Sue foun d appreciation fostered thankfulness for the present moment, no matter what h appened or how difficult the situation. Betty Smith believed that recovery and growth after a hurricane entails a positive attitude and appreciation. She said: I guess what IÂ’m trying to say is, in a disaster, one has to look at whatever things you can to be grateful for and then take the ne xt step from that. IÂ’m alive, some people didnÂ’t make it. Okay, IÂ’m alive, no w what can I do? I donÂ’t have a house, okay, letÂ’s see. And then you star t with the basics. Look around to see what you can do to pull yourself tog ether and rebuild your life. Of course, I say that here, but I know in N ew Orleans they didnÂ’t have jobs because the whole city went down. They didnÂ’t have any jobs to go to. IÂ’m sure I have no idea how serious and how dif ficult it must be for someone who has lost everything to say, Â“come on, buck up be glad youÂ’re not dead.Â” You know what IÂ’m saying? (T2, p. 6 6)
186 Betty thought people would have to experience losing everything to a hurricane before they would know what to do in that circumstance. She said, Â“You donÂ’t know what you would do until youÂ’ve been thereÂ” (T2, p. 67). Betty found that appreciation made her life sweeter in the present mom ent. Appreciation allowed Betty to shrug off the difficulties in the present and realize what mattered most. Carol White also expressed appreciation for surviving t he hurricane. She said: Well, going through any kind of tragedy, you know, I feel, like, that if you live through it, if you make it through it, you know even though your belongings may be damaged or whatever, you can still a ppreciate the fact that it wasnÂ’t any worse than it was, and youÂ’re still alive. (T6, pp. 11-12) After being thankful for being alive, Carol found t hat appreciation bolstered her energy to assess her situation and find out what had to be done. Kate Thomas found that appreciation for life, in general, fosters a positive attitude within her family that bolstered their energy to work through di fficult times. Some respondents talked about appreciation more in ter ms of having a positive attitude. As they described it, this involved co ncentrating more on the good in a situation rather than the bad. Focusing on t he good in their situation allowed participants to keep their energy high after t he hurricane, which empowered them to tackle their hurricane-related tasks. P ositive attitude and focusing on the good side entails having an appreciatio n for what you have in the present.
187 Ann Brown thought a positive attitude was necessary to e xperience growth. She said, Â“It depends on the way you look at l ifeÂ” as to whether you will grow negatively or positively (T1, p. 18). Ann suggest s that, even if things are difficult when you are recovering from a hurricane, a s long as you have faith that you will recover, then you will. She said, Â“Well, eve n if youÂ’re struggling that youÂ’ll be able to, you know, make it, just believe in itÂ” (T1 p. 19). Ann thought it was helpful after the hurricane to play with other kids at her auntÂ’s because it was fun and kept her attitude positive. She said, Â“[In the] summer, having the kids around at my auntÂ’s house was kind of fun because you actually have something to doÂ” (T1, p. 29) rather than sitting around. Keeping busy with fun activities appears to foster a positive attitude that encourages growth in th e present. Scott Dean found a positive attitude helped him grow after the hurricane. He advised: Just donÂ’t focus on the negative stuff. ThereÂ’s nothing t hat I can partake and do with big pieces of advice, but I think you donÂ’ t [grow] on the negatives and always focus on the positives, and all thos e things will look better that way. (T5, p. 13) His brother, Tim, believes a positive attitude is essenti al for growth. He said, Â“Look forward to tomorrowÂ” (T5, p. 57). Kate Thomas used a positive attitude to laugh about sit uations. Laughing helped her to continue fighting with her insurance com pany over her electronics, appliances, and the documentation of her house.
188 Other participants described appreciation more as hope a nd optimism for the future. Hope was encouraged by appreciation and a positive attitude. Having hope encouraged participants to look towards and imagin e a better future. Beth Allen found hope helped her grow by looking toward a better future. She said, Â“Well, as far as my experience is just hope, you know. Ju st be hopeful . .Â” (T4, p. 23). With hope, she felt that the situation could get better. Beth believes having hope encourages people to seek out what they need to recover and grow. Tim Dean thought it was important to realize that th ere was always another day. He advised looking toward the future, keeping hope al ive, so the present would look better. He said, Â“TomorrowÂ’s a new dayÂ” (T5, p. 5 7). He believes hope helps people get through the present day when everything l ooks so grim. Participants mentioned appreciation in conjunction with a positive attitude and hope. Those factors appeared to form a ladder of e ncouragement for positive growth: Appreciation led to a positive attitu de and a positive attitude led to hope for the future. Religious Faith Participants described religious faith in different respe cts. Most participants defined religious faith as a Christian rel igion centered on God or the Lord. Another participant defined faith as a spiritu ality or a belief in a higher power. Many participants leaned on their religious fai th to get through the hurricane. They grew positively in their religious fai th as well as other areas in their lives. Beth Allen credits her positive growth to her strong re ligious faith. She
189 believes that positive growth is fostered by the Â“state of your mindÂ” (T4, p. 27). Beth thinks that religious faith strengthens people and, in her case, has helped her become mentally strong. She said, Â“I have a strong faith, and a lot of people out there are not as strong as I amÂ” (T4, p. 27). Jane Smith relied on her religious faith when her clot hes and household items were destroyed in a storage warehouse. She reme mbers clearly the day that she had to inventory her damaged possessions for in surance purposes at the storage facility. She said: I just remember sitting there. ItÂ’s funny, itÂ’s just clo thes, I was healthy. I didnÂ’t lose my home. I didnÂ’t purchase one [house] ye t, but certain outfits would just trigger certain things. I wore this to my br otherÂ’s wedding. I would have a moment that I would just break down and cry. (T2, p. 5) Even though she knew that she was okay due to her insuran ce, she looked seriously at her faith. Â“Why does God allow this to ha ppen?Â” She was ashamed that she had cried because other people had it so much worse, but there was no time for self-pity. She clarified: I think I ended up taking 4 hours off while I was still being asked to go out and respond to my communityÂ’s need, but I think, by vi rtue of the fact that that was my charge, it forced me to muster up a lot of faith, a lot of faith in God, why he allows things to happen, and the fact that in all reality, all I lost were things which could easily be replaced, and the re were people out there that had no means of replacing the things they l ost. So, my
190 perspective took a totally different twist, and somehow I was energized and inspired to . work 110 hours the next 2 weeks. ( T2, p. 6) She believes it was a strong growth in her Â“faithÂ” an d Â“a keen awareness of what the heck do you think you are doing crying at the loss of clothes, a sofa, washers, and dryers. I mean, you have insuranceÂ” that helped he r recover (T2, p. 7). Carol White found that her religious faith grew as pe ople helped her after the hurricane. She credited the Lord for sending peopl e to help her, quoting a Bible verse, Â“But, the Lord put it in their minds an d in their will to do that. Their heart was softened. He softened their heart enough for them to do thatÂ” (T6, p. 31). She said, Â“He got me through, totally through everythingÂ” (T6, p. 32). Clay Dean found that an essential key for recovery and growth in his family was to put stock in their religious faith. He t hanked the Lord on a daily basis. Clay relies on his faith to help him through dif ficult times. When he, with friends and family, demolished their mobile home, in his prayer that day, he asked God to support him. He said, Â“I had a big talk. Â‘ God, IÂ’m going to need some helpÂ’Â” (T5, p. 48). Lara Dean immediately turned to her faith in God to recover and grow from the hurricane damage. She knew it would just take time and that there might be setbacks, but believed that God had a plan: Well, before the hurricane, I was focused on my own ju st getting my, you know, getting back up on my feet. Â‘Cause I had had some strokes, and this is what got me in the wheelchair. Okay? So, after the hurricane, that
191 just kind of took a little more Â‘cause now I had to dea l with, you know. (T5, p. 27) The hurricane-related delay in her healing strengthen ed her faith. Lara knows some people are uncomfortable hearing of her belief i n her faith, but she feels strongly about it. The hurricane damage reinforced her faith in God. She said, Â“It just proves to me and, uh, well, had to trust in God, because as far as IÂ’m concerned, you know, there is nothing too difficult for GodÂ” (T5, p. 29). Kate Thomas also looks to her Christian faith to support her emotionally when the going gets tough. She said, Â“My grandparents are very Christianoriented and thatÂ’s the way we grew up, and I tried to, to this day, do it to my children and make them have a positive on anythingÂ” ( T3, p. 35). She elaborated, explaining that religious faith was Â“important when I was growing up, and itÂ’s still important todayÂ” (T3, p. 35). Patience Participants explained that patience included understand ing that everything wonÂ’t be repaired in a timely manner and having the grace to wait. Having patience allowed participants to take things as t hey came and avoid being frustrated with delays. Having patience included acceptance of the situation. To grow after a hurricane, Chuck Smith recommends, Â“YouÂ’ ve just got to take things as they comeÂ” (T2, p. 42). With a damaged h ome, Chuck stressed Â“patienceÂ” (T2, p. 42). He said, Â“You know youÂ’re no t going to get people over
192 here to do the repair work for you as soon as you woul d like to have it done because so many people are in the same set of circumstancesÂ” (T2, pp. 42-43). Carol WhiteÂ’s patience and perseverance also helped he r find the right organization for help. Because of her willingness to se arch out the correct agency for help and to fill out the paperwork, CarolÂ’ s home was repaired. Lara Dean advises, Â“Just be patient, and know that itÂ’s going to be over with soon. And this too shall passÂ” (T5, p. 32). She app lies this to not only hurricane damage but her health. Patience encourages growth in an expansive manner and includes acceptance of the situation. Some participants described p atience in terms of accepting what had happened to their lives as a result o f the hurricane. They believed it was important to acknowledge that their li ving situations, jobs, and some relationships were different. After patient accepta nce, participants could begin to grow in their vision of the future. Kathy Brown thinks it is important to have acceptance an d face what occurred. She said, Â“Accept whatÂ’s happenedÂ” (T1, p. 114) She elaborated: Build a future. Nobody can stop disasters from happening You canÂ’t bury your head and assume that it will never happen again Things are gonna happen, just deal with it. As long as you have your li fe, your health, your family, youÂ’re fine. (T1, pp. 114-115) Acceptance helped Kathy envision a future for her famil y. Carol Brown thought that acceptance was important if o ne was to grow. She believes with acceptance comes the ability to under stand the situation and
193 to determine how to begin recovery. Carol thinks accepta nce is a major step to recovery and growth. Carol accepted that she felt broken inside due to her damaged home. She then began finding the healing pr ocess to recovery and growth. Patience led to acceptance which in turn created a space for growth in the future Self-Reliance Participants were quick to point out that, although oth er people and agencies could be helpful, they had to rely on themselv es. No support group, government agency, or other person was going to save th em. If they wanted to have food or water or to get their homes repaired, t hey would have to do it themselves. Self-reliance brought the confidence that th ey could handle anything and, in turn, fostered their growth. Kathy Brown said that she found self-reliance importan t. She said, Â“DonÂ’t expect from the federal agencies and everything . donÂ’t expect them to come pull you up. You have to pull your own self up. They will help, but donÂ’t assume theyÂ’re going to do everything for youÂ” (T1, p. 115 ). Self-reliance was a contributing factor to KathyÂ’s growth. Self-reliance en couraged her to become more confident that she could and would handle the hu rricane damage to her home. But self-reliance wasnÂ’t always easy. Most people want to throw themselves on the floor and never get up to deal with the mess a disaster brings. Kathy felt this way many times, but then she got up and did what she had to do. She explained ho w she found the strength to get up:
194 Well, let me think of how I would describe this. If yo u lay there and wait, is anything going to change? You canÂ’t lay there and wai t. You have to keep getting up and going. Sometimes it took me all my ene rgy just to not want to give up. (T1, pp. 116-117) Clay Dean wasnÂ’t just waiting for God to help him. He was self-reliant and creative in his approach in beginning the building of his new home, and this contributed to his personal growth. He explained: Â“Th e Lord says you just donÂ’t just stand there and crab. You step on your feet and m ove onÂ” (T5, p. 49). Tim Dean felt, like most of his family, that they had to rely on themselves to recover and grow from the hurricane. He said, Â“You see how people are. Nobody wants to help youÂ” (T5, p. 53). Self-reliance fostered growth as an individual and as a family. Teamwork Participants noted that teamwork was working together to solve problems or help one another. Teamwork involved family, frien ds, or neighbors. Sue Brown said, Â“We started to work as a team moreÂ” (T1, p. 61). Teamwork drew Sue and her family closer as they emotionally supported one ano ther in tackling the damage on their home together. Teamwork fostered grow th in SueÂ’s family. Clay Dean formed a team with his family and had his so ns help, not only their family, but the neighbors as well: We more or less worked as a team. The boys, they went ou t and helped the neighbors pick up some of the debris in their yards a nd stuff. But it
195 was more or less us. It seemed like every family was doin g their own little thing instead of working in a group and a team. (T5, p. 21) Teamwork within their family was essential to the Deans to make headway on the damage to their property and home. Tim Dean exp lained: Well, see, like we didnÂ’t have no water, no foodÂ—canned food, so we had to work together. Like my dad coming in to do somethin g IÂ’d have to do. There ainÂ’t no Â“I donÂ’t want to do.Â” You got to do. (T5, p. 55) Teamwork helped the Deans grow closer as a family and be come confident they could handle difficult situations together. What Kathy Brown treasures the most is that she and her children are much closer after the hurricane, and she attributes this growth to teamwork. Kathy credits the hurricane for this growth because they had to work together to solve problems with their house. Kathy said, Â“We worke d together. We fixed the problems. We, we did everything. We did it together, and the kids were included in it. We became a very tight teamÂ” (T1, p. 23). Creativity Creativity often meant that participants did not wait for someone to solve the problem or accept that things couldnÂ’t be changed o r fixed. Participants described creativity as the unique methods they used to so lve problems. They were quite proud of how they dealt with the hurrican e-related damage to their homes. Creativity kept them focused on the process of solv ing problems rather than being bogged down by the problem itself.
196 Clay Dean said that he found creativity helped him gr ow in confidence in being able to solve problems in the building of his n ew house. Thinking creatively kept him from being mired in the present hurricane-rel ated issues surrounding his mobile home and the building of a new home. Using cre ativity, he was able to grow a vision of his familyÂ’s future in a new home. Kathy Brown found the challenges of recovery demanded creativity. She delighted in her creative approach to juggling and s olving problems. She grew in confidence as she handled each issue. Relationships among Adversarial Growth Factors Some of the adversarial growth factors might seem to con tradict other factors. Some participants might even be seen as contradi cting themselves by describing adversarial growth factors that seem to be con tradictory. In other instances, the factors appear both to contradict and sup port one another. One instance of seemingly contradictory factors was that participants mentioned being self-reliant and engaging in teamwor k as important to adversarial growth. Participants mentioned that it was important to rely on yourself to pick yourself up or nothing would change. O n the other hand, participants treasured the relationships that resulted f rom using teamwork within their families and thought it was important to growth Sometimes they bemoaned the fact that neighbors werenÂ’t involved in working to gether and creating a team relationship to help one another. Both factors make sen se in a disaster situation even if they might seem contradictory.
197 Self-reliance was in tension not only with teamwork but with other factors as well. Self-reliance could be seen as in opposition to religious faith by thinking of self-reliance as the view that Â“I will take care of myselfÂ” which might be thought of as contrasting with Â“God will take care of meÂ”. In fact, participants reiterated their religious faith and said that God doesnÂ’t expect you to stand there and wait. Perhaps, a strong religious faith supports people being self-reliant. Religious faith and self-reliance were not the only factors that might seem contradictory and yet supportive of one another. A sec ular worldview and religious faith might appear to contradict each other, but participants often said both were factors in adversarial growth. A change in wo rldview, or clarity about life, was often mentioned by participants as stemming fr om GodÂ’s plan for them. Patience and self-reliance might also be seen as contr adictory. Patience implies waiting for things to happen in the long proce ss of recovery and accepting the situation. However, self-reliance suggests th at people not wait, not accept, and instead take care of things themselves. As a re sult of self-reliance, participants mentioned growing in confidence in their abilities to handle whatever life brings. However, on a practical note, taking matte rs into your own hands without waiting for insurance adjusters may be injuriou s to your claim. Patience suggests calmness about the situation that may lead to less stress on families. Emotional support, the most commonly cited adversarial growth factor, might also be in tension with self-reliance. Self-rel iance may imply an independence from the emotional support of family, f riends, neighbors, and support groups. Although participants described both facto rs as helpful to
198 positive growth, the link between emotional support a nd self-reliance may be tenuous. Are people self-reliant without emotional su pport or do people become self-reliant because they receive emotional support? E motional support may provide a vehicle for self-reliance through talking a bout emotional and practical issues. Participants described a combination of factors that encou raged adversarial growth. Some of the factors were in tension with one another. Other factors might seem contradictory but may support one ano ther. The relationships among adversarial growth factors may be one of flow an d conflict at the same time. Summary In this chapter, I described the adversarial growth exp eriences of the participants and discussed eight factors that appear to in fluence adversarial growth. I described how some of the factors may seem to co ntradict one another and how other factors may both support and contradict on e another. Most participants reported that positive growth had occurred within themselves, their families, or one or more family members. The growth t hat emerged for the families was an increase in emotional support among fami ly members, and in some cases, with friends and neighbors. Five families men tioned that their religious faith had been strengthened. The majority of the participants described themselves as b eing more appreciative of what they had after the hurricane. Pa rticipants found they were less focused on material things and more concerned, in t heir opinion, on what
199 matters in life such as family and friends. In every fam ily, at least one person reported that his or her worldview had grown. At lea st three participants mentioned transformational growth. They experienced growth for the better in ways they had not imagined previously. Some participan ts reported both positive growth and negative growth. Participants described eight factors that may influence ad versarial growth: (a) emotional support, (b) worldview, (c) appreciation (d) religious faith, (e) patience, (f) self-reliance, (g) teamwork, and (h) crea tivity. These eight factors were mentioned by two or more participants and emerge d from the analysis of the participantsÂ’ experiences of adversarial growth from the transcripts and field notes. Of these factors, emotional support was most comm only cited followed (in order of the frequency mentioned) by worldview, appr eciation, religious faith, patience, self-reliance, teamwork, and creativity. Participants agreed the best ways to recover and grow w ere to give and receive emotional support from family, friends, neigh bors, and support groups, and to lean on religious faith. The participants menti oned as being helpful having a positive attitude and appreciating and being thankf ul for big things and little ones. Although not all participants agreed, some suggest ed that listening to stories to learn how to solve problems and to receive e motional support was important to recovery and growth. In chapter 6, I de scribe the potential benefits, limitations, and the implications of this study.
200 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In this chapter, I provide a summary and describe the potential benefits, limitations, and the implications of this study. Summary This study employed a qualitative approach to explore the factors that contribute to adversarial growth for survivors of natur al disasters. Adversarial growth is a collective term that suggests positive growth after experiencing adverse or life challenging events. Adversarial growth was considered synonymous with positive growth in this study. The quali tative methodology included narrative and family group interviews that were conducted with six families in Florida that had experienced multiple hur ricanes within a six-week period in 2004. Three research questions were studied in this dissertation: 1. What is it like to experience a hurricane? 2. How do people cope with a hurricane? 3. What factors contribute to adversarial growth after a hurricane? Narrative analysis and thematic analysis were used to disco ver the factors that contributed to participants experiencing adversarial gro wth.
201 Participants described the experience of surviving and cop ing with the hurricane in terms of three time periodsÂ—preparation p rior to the hurricane, surviving during the hurricane, and coping after the h urricane. They reported that preparation for a hurricane involved a three-part pr ocessÂ—physical, mental, and emotional preparationÂ—and that the preparation affect ed survival and recovery from a hurricane. They mentioned four actions as helpfu l in staying positive during a hurricane: (a) drawing on family, friends, a nd neighbors for continual emotional support; (b) keeping occupied with a fun acti vity; (c) leaning on religious faith; (d) and listening to up-to-date info rmation. Participants described nine sources of support that enable d them to cope after the hurricane: (a) the government, (b) charitab le organizations, (c) homeownerÂ’s insurance, (d) family, (e) friends, (f) re ligious faith, (g) stories, (h) life perspective, and (i) music. In addition, they ment ioned eight factors that may influence adversarial growth: (a) emotional support, (b) worldview, (c) appreciation, (d) religious faith, (e) patience, (f) self-reliance, (g) teamwork, and (h) creativity. Some of the eight factors appear to co ntradict one another and other factors may both support and contradict one anothe r. Communicating emotional support within relationships was the most commo nly cited factor in contributing to recovery and growth after a hurricane. Findings indicate that positive growth is possible for t he survivor of a natural disaster. Adversarial growth was influenced by p reparation before the hurricane and activities during the hurricane. Participa nts experiencing positive
202 growth after the hurricane drew on sources of support a nd adversarial growth factors. Potential Benefits A holistic approach to disasters that encouraged the facto rs that contribute to positive growth among survivors might lessen the burd en on the government to deal with disasters. Survivors would be encouraged to rely on one another and to support one another emotionally. This, in turn, mi ght foster positive growth so that fewer government resources might be needed to hel p survivors work through the process of recovery. Most survivors experience normal symptoms of stress from a d isaster and are best supported by their families and interpersonal networks. Less time and money might be spent on disasters if we understood more fully how to foster positive growth. The overall effect might be one of survivors experiencing the thrill of positive growth instead of the perspective o f loss and tragedy. Throughout history, people have grown positively from loss and tr agedy. If we encourage this growth, the benefits might be significant for families, friends, neighborhoods, and communities, with less dependence on government resou rces and positive growth for survivors. Disaster planners need to understand where measures to e ncourage positive growth fit among concerns for such essentials as fo od, water, and shelter. The participants in this study described the disas ter preparation process as important to positive growth. In the preparation p rocess, well before hurricane season, practical measures must be taken as well. Insurance companies should
203 be required to make clear to policy holders in terms th ey understand what is covered and what is not. Understanding insurance contribu tes to a proactive vision of the future if a disaster strikes. Media outlets, including but not limited to newspaper s, radio, television, and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, should be encouraged to include information on the mental and emotional dime nsions of survival, recovery, and positive growth along with physical surviv al. As an example, media could offer emotional support through lists of activiti es that people could do if they were feeling stressed out before, during, and aft er a disaster. The lists could suggest methods of giving and getting emotional suppo rt in interpersonal relationships. Encouraging people to call their family and friends to help them decide to evacuate to safe shelter could also be added. Although the primary concern of weather reporters is to give updates about th e storm, I have noticed in Florida that there is plenty of filler time while wa iting for the radar update, which could be filled with valuable information regarding emotional support. This, in turn, might reduce the phone calls to emergency services by scared or confused people who may only need to be supported emotionall y. Communities should plan to empower neighborhoods and families for positive growth through the encouragement of interper sonal networks and the inclusion of the factors of positive growth well before hurricane season. A specific plan designed by disaster planners that incorporates emo tional support and other factors as well as safety and practical measures for neighb orhoods groups should be offered to neighborhoods. The plan might i nclude asking people to
204 form a specific group to deal with disasters in their nei ghborhood. The neighborhood group could incorporate plans for single elderly, or special needs people, should the need arise. Individuals or small fa milies, even if they have sturdy shelters, could be encouraged to stay together d uring the storm to provide emotional, mental, and physical support. Food could be pooled in neighborhoods and informal gatherings planned to keep peopleÂ’s spir its up after a disaster. Neighborhood resources, tools, and manpower could be asse ssed to create a proactive vision for the future. The neighborhood gro up could be trained in various ways to provide emotional support. A plan for communicative help that includes helping people understand the importance of em otionally supportive communication in relationships before, during, and aft er disaster should be implemented, well before hurricane season, and reinfo rced during and after a disaster. This study contributes to the research literature because t he current research in communication does not examine interperson al communication and adversarial growth in natural disasters. I hope this st udy encourages more research into how we might use emotional support and o ther factors not only to grow after a disaster but in making decisions before and during a disaster that might improve peopleÂ’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Another area that future researchers might explore is how participants refr ame the FEMA process as Â“gamesÂ” that have to be learned and played correctly Also, we need to investigate what role religious leaders might play wit h their congregations in all phases of a disaster.
205 Limitations This is a small study of six families that was conducted fo ur years after they experienced two or more hurricanes within six weeks. The time factor itself may be a limitation. In the passing of time, memory ca n often blur perceptions and retrospectively things can often appear better or worse than they seemed at the time. The reliability of recall is uncertain. Peop le do forget what or how things happened. Causal statements by participants may not be reliable. Statements by participants should be considered from the stance that th ey said they remembered experiencing rather than exactly what happ ened four years earlier. However, memory often sharpens what matters most to peo ple, and everything else fades away. Therefore, no matter how memory disto rts as time passes, the story we remember and tell ourselves and others is the t ruth we live by. A related limitation due to the time factor is that p articipants may have told their stories many times and embellished and changed the stories significantly from what they experienced and were saying four years ago. The original story may have been lost and the new one over time may hav e become reified. Perhaps, they forgot parts of their story or dramatize d it to make it seem better. I donÂ’t believe I was told stories that were changed or e mbellished over time, but I acknowledge this limitation to their stories. Another possible limitation to this study may be the l ack of time between the narrative interview and the family group interv iew and that only two families participated in the group interview, the Browns and t he Deans. These participants wanted to conduct the family interview imme diately after the
206 narrative interview because they were excited to share their thoughts as a family. I was satisfied with the interaction in the family grou p interview, but I acknowledge this may have been a limitation to the stud y. Perhaps, with one or two weeks between the narrative interview and the fam ily group interview, the participants may have had time to reflect on their answ ers and add more details about their experiences. Also, I did not have an oppor tunity to reflect, compare, and ask more questions that might have occurred to me. With no time between the interviews, and no subsequent interviews, I acknowled ge that the participants may have had more to add to the stories or validated their stories if we had had more interviews. Unfortunately, one of the realities of this sort of a pplied research is that getting participants is difficult and they donÂ’t always fit the categories we have in mind. Applied communication research, especially when i t is qualitative research, is often messy, a point made explicitly by Ellingson (20 09) in her chapter on ethnographic research in the recent Routledge Handbook of Applied Communication Research (Frey & Cissna, 2009). Query et al. (2009) also noted the unexpected difficulties of even securing research part icipants, especially in the case of populations that have suffered some kind of trauma. There may be alternate interpretations of the data. For example, two of the participants, Sue Brown and Scott Dean, both of whom were teenagers, described experiencing transformational growth, which t hey explained in detail during the interviews. An alternative interpretation might be that they are teenagers and that they would have changed in these w ays even without the
207 hurricanes. Perhaps, although I believe that my interp retation better fits what they told me. They explained their transformation in det ail and gave evidence of it in the four years since the hurricane. Their explanations so unded convincing and believable. Teenagers are not exempt from transforma tional growth because of their age. In addition, a limitation to this study ma y be that the majority of the participants were low income, some were disabled, and most had experienced a great deal of adversity in their lives. Therefore, th ey may have better understood how to recover and experience positive growth based on past histories with adversity. Five out of six families had been referred by Rebuild Polk County After Disaster (RPAD) for this study. Most of the families were active Christians. However, one family with a middle-to-upper income le vel without disabilities experienced positive growth in much of the same manner Perhaps a more diverse set of participants would have responded differ ently to the interview questions in this study. Implications Further research is necessary regarding interpersonal commu nication and adversarial growth among disaster survivors. We need to investigate interpersonal relationships and supportive communication in disasters to consider how to foster positive growth in survivors. We need studies on emotional support and mental wellness in a disaster with in a communicative context. We also need to examine emotional support and creativity in a disaster. Current psychological studies on creativity in a disaster su ggest a link between it and well-being (Joseph & Linley, 2008; Metzl, 2009). How might interpersonal
208 communication support this process? Few studies exist by comm unication researchers on natural disasters and adversarial growth; co mmunication scholars need to join this conversation. The participants in this study contributed valuable insi ght into positive growth and the place of interpersonal communication i n natural disasters. The findings suggest that people need to prepare mentally and emotionally as well as physically in order to survive natural disasters. Physica l survival often depends on the mental and emotional state of the individual, and mental and emotional well-being depends in significant part on the personÂ’s i nterpersonal networks and availability of emotional support within those netwo rks. Thus, the results of this study suggest the value of supportive interpersonal rel ationships in surviving hurricanes and other natural disasters, and even in gro wing as a result of the experience. In turn, the findings suggest that disaster p lanners would do well to plan for ways to encourage the conditions that make adv ersarial growth more likely and hence to confirm people in their capacities to grow after disaster.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Beverly McClay Borawski was born in Detroit, Michigan. S he earned a B.A. in English from Western Michigan University and an M.A. i n Communication from the University of South Florida. Since 1998, she has been a faculty member in the Division of Arts and Sciences at Pasco-Hernando Comm unity College where she teaches speech courses. She received the 2003-2004 Facul ty Chair award at Pasco-Hernando Community College and the College of Arts and Sciences Publication Award for Doctoral Candidate and Faculty M entor in 2006 from the University of South Florida. She has presented some o f her work on the topic of adversarial growth at the Southern States Communicatio n Association convention and has published an autoethnographic account of adversarial growth in the Journal of Loss and Trauma.