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Displacement after disaster: Challenges and opportunities responding to Puerto Rican evacuees in Central Florida after Hurricane Maria

Tanya Buhler Corbin, PhD

Abstract


Major disasters often displace populations, requiring coordinated response efforts from governmental and voluntary organizations to support and assist an influx of evacuees. Despite the frequency and significance of this occurrence, this aspect of disaster management has received limited scholarly attention, with research predominantly focusing on response and recovery at the impacted disaster sites. This study investigates disaster management and support offered to Puerto Rican evacuees arriving in Central Florida after Hurricane Maria. A multiagency resource center (MARC) was established at the Orlando Airport to support evacuees, facilitating a network of agencies to coordinate response efforts. The analysis uses data obtained through in-depth, semistructured interviews from members of the Orlando metropolitan area disaster response community who worked at the MARC center, and content analysis of state and local government documents. The results identify challenges and successes and common themes in disaster support for displaced evacuees after disasters. Results confirm some conventional wisdom about disaster response, such as persistent significant challenges related to shelter and housing, and offer new insights about how to successfully support displaced evacuees, particularly using MARCs. This study provides foundational knowledge to inform future research and contributes to the development of successful support for those who are displaced after disaster.


Keywords


disaster response, Hurricane Maria, displacement, Florida, disaster management

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References


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