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Local responses to disasters: recent lessons from zero-order responders

Fernando Briones (Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Ryan Vachon (Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Michael Glantz (Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 21 September 2018

Issue publication date: 22 January 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to define and discuss the concept of zero-order responders (ZOR). It explores the potential lessons and the additive value that assimilation of responses of disaster-affected people into disaster risk reduction (DRR) and disaster risk management (DRM) programs can provide.

Design/methodology/approach

In order to support this concept, the authors review two recent extreme hydrometeorological events, illustrating how local populations cope with disasters during the period before external support arrives. Additionally, the authors address their under-leveraged role in the management of recovery. The empirical evidence was collected by direct observations during the 2017 El Niño Costero-related floods in Peru, and by the review of press following 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria destruction in Puerto Rico.

Findings

During disasters, there is a window of time before official and/or external support arrives. During this period, citizens must act unsupported by first responders – devising self-coping strategies in order to survive. In the days, weeks and months following a disaster, local populations are still facing recovery with creativity.

Research limitations/implications

Citing references arguing for or against the value of documenting survivor methods to serve as a testimony for the improvement of DRR programming.

Practical implications

DRR and DRM must integrate local populations and knowledge into DRR planning to improve partnerships between communities and organizations.

Social implications

The actions and experiences of citizens pro-acting to pave fruitful futures is a valuable commentary on improvements for DRR and management.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a citizen-centered contribution to future disaster risk reducing actions. This approach emphasizes the reinterpretation of local responses to disasters. DRRs and DRMs growth as fields would value from heralding ZOR coping and improvisation skills, illustrated under stressful disaster-related conditions, as an additive resource to programming development.

Keywords

Citation

Briones, F., Vachon, R. and Glantz, M. (2019), "Local responses to disasters: recent lessons from zero-order responders", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 119-125. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-05-2018-0151

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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