Recent natural disasters in the United States, namely Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, left disturbing images in the minds of many. Media outlets across the world broadcast reports illustrating the disparities between those who were able to successfully evacuate following these disasters and those who could not. Those who were left behind were segments of American society that historically have experienced social inequities, including low-income individuals, the disabled, the elderly, and non-English speakers. These events highlighted the issue of social equity in the provision of emergency management services. For a nation that had allocated significant resources to preparing an effective response to disasters since 9/11, the United States was remarkably unprepared to respond quickly to these emergencies. The problem was particularly acute for local governments, which are the first to respond during an emergency. Following Frederickson’s contention that “all important matters of social equity are local, in the sense of consequences” (2005, 35), this study uses data from 31 localities across the United States to examine whether (and how) county and city governments consider vulnerable populations in the development of their emergency operations plans (EOPs), which guide their response efforts to disasters. The analysis suggests that much work remains to be done to protect these groups during and after local emergencies.
Gooden, Susan, Dale Jones, Kasey J. Martin and Marcus Boyd. 2009. "Social Equity in Local Emergency Management Planning." State and Local Government Review (December). http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0160323X0904100101