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Stories after disaster survival: Preparing, heeding warnings, and self-reliance

Timothy S. Killian, PhD, Zola K. Moon, PhD, Charleen C. McNeill, PhD, Joanna Person-Michener, PhD, M. E. Betsy Garrison, PhD


Objective: The purpose of the study was to examine the content of stories told by people personally impacted by disasters.

Design: Semistructured, qualitative interviews. Setting: Northwest part of a mid-south state.

Participants: Fourteen disaster survivors who were recruited through their attendance at an emergency preparedness-related fair.

Main Outcome Measures: Interview schedule based on previous research using the family resilience framework.

Results: Three themes emerged: prior emergency preparation, heeding warnings of impending disaster, and rural self-reliance.

Conclusions: Participants had made prior emergency preparedness plans, but their personal experiences led to them adjusting their plans, or making more relevant plans for future disasters. Participants expressed the importance of sharing their experiences with family and community members, expressing hope that others would learn, vicariously rather than firsthand, from their experiences.


disaster survivors, emergency preparedness, heeded warnings, rural-self-reliance

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