Justice, Equity, and Emergency Management: Volume 25

Cover of Justice, Equity, and Emergency Management

Table of contents

(11 chapters)


Pages i-xxii
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As communities grappled with a slew of concurrent disasters in 2020, grassroots mutual aid regained prominence, providing lessons for a more equitable approach to emergency management. Within emergency management, “mutual aid” has come to mean the specific legal mechanisms by which governments, non-governmental organizations, and private sector entities share resources. However, the term “mutual aid” has a much longer history of functioning outside of government and emergency management circles. With a recorded history in Black and Creole communities dating back to the mid-1700s, it has been widely used within communities of color for centuries. To see grassroots mutual aid in practice, the authors present a case study of Imagine Water Works’ Mutual Aid Response Network (MARN) in New Orleans, which was developed in 2019 and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and a record-breaking Gulf Coast hurricane season in 2020. Utilizing Facebook as a platform, the MARN’s “Imagine Mutual Aid (New Orleans)” group saw its membership grow by 5,000 members from March 2020 to March 2021. Within the first week of Hurricane Laura’s landfall, the group welcomed evacuated individuals from Southwest Louisiana and quickly facilitated thousands of requests for support, providing food, housing, clothing, medical devices, emotional support, emergency cash, laundry services, and personalized care for those in non-congregate shelters, as well as locally informed flood and hurricane preparedness information for subsequent storms. Grassroots mutual aid sheds light on root causes and existing gaps within emergency management and provides a model for autonomous community care.


Agricultural and fishery disasters are rather obscure emergency management research topics. However, the Food and Agriculture Sector is one of only 16 critical infrastructure sectors included in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988, and the sector is a vital component of the United States economy. As climate change continues to increase the frequency and severity of agricultural and fishery disasters, the Food and Agricultural Sector must adapt to and cope with unprecedented levels of risk. This chapter provides an overview of federal agricultural and fishery disaster policy and explores whether such policies are consistent with Jerroleman’s (2019)principles of just recovery.


Changing climate dynamics have resulted in a confluence of disaster events to which Louisiana government leaders and emergency managers have never before had to respond simultaneously: a global pandemic and an “epidemic” of landfalling hurricanes during the 2020 season (eight cones over Louisiana) with challenging, unusual characteristics: (1) two hurricanes passing over the same location within 36 hours, a fujiwhara – Hurricanes Marco and Laura, (2) 150 mile-per-hour winds inadequately forecasted and of an almost unprecedented speed, (3) a difficult to forecast surge magnitude that led to incorrect immediate response, (4) delayed long-term recovery efforts from responders outside of the area because of initial reporting errors regarding surge heights and wind speed, and (5) a storm, Zeta, that passed directly over a densely populated area that would have been hard hit by rain if the storm had slowed. In addition, the number and closeness in dates of storm occurrences led to lengthy coastal high-water levels. To these co-occurring threats forecasters, state and local officials and residents responded with expertise and commitment, adhering to close collaboration, modifying evacuations and undertaking protective measures, all contributing to a low death rate from storms and a modest death rate from COVID. More just outcomes were supported by the general capacity of the responders, commitment to keep the residents informed about both risks and appropriate responses to them and the provision of special services, calculated for the new situation of the pandemic and the storm epidemic, for those without the means to respond adequately to both.


Pre-colonization, Tribes lived in ways that were well-adapted to natural hazards and stewarded the environment respectfully. Colonization and the federal reservation system have stuck Tribes in static, often hazard-prone, areas; removing their foundational capabilities for avoiding disaster and environmental hazard impacts. The premise of ceded lands and the reservation system was a trust responsibility of the federal government to provide resources for continuing self-governance of Tribal Nations. Fulfillment of the federal government’s trust responsibility to Tribal Nations in the realm of climate change and disasters is predicated on the provision of sufficient resources for the Tribal Nation itself to properly govern. The trust responsibility is not fulfilled through the federal government allowing applications to program-dictated grant opportunities or even consistent, yet insufficient, recurring funding for disaster management. Nor is the trust responsibility fulfilled through the preparation and resourcing of outside entities – local, state, and up to the federal government itself – to enact disaster management actions on sovereign lands. The ability of a nation to develop and administer governmental programs and services independent of outside interference is the very foundation of sovereignty and self-determination. The fulfillment of the trust responsibility for disaster management hinges, therefore, on the allocation of sufficient resources and legal space for self-governance for Tribal Nations to return to pre-colonization levels of capability and sovereignty for disaster management for their citizens and residents.


This chapter discusses some issues of diversity in hazard mitigation when just recovery is considered or not. Justice in hazard mitigation becomes crucial considering unequal distribution of resources, systemic racism, and social vulnerability to hazards. While there has been research on just recovery, there is little or no evidence of research that examines the issue of equity and justice in hazard mitigation, This chapter discusses what hazard mitigation is, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 focusing on the planning process, public involvement in the planning process, some planning theories on vulnerability, and building the case for achieving and striving for justice and equity in promoting diversity in hazard mitigation. The chapter makes some recommendation on how to achieve diversity in hazard mitigation.


Disasters do not discriminate. Socio-political systems create the circumstances by which hazards disproportionately impact some individuals more than others. It is also these systems that either provide policies, procedures, and processes to help every person recover in an effective and positive manner, or create further inequalities and inequities leading to additional harm and delivering insufficient opportunities for substantial recovery. This chapter seeks to explore the unique disaster response considerations that must be taken into account for individuals with access and functional needs, and the subsequent challenges in recovery that may be experienced by this population. This exploration will be through the lens of justice, including the roles of equality, equity, and human rights. More specifically, this chapter will examine Jerolleman’s principles for Just Recovery and the applicability of this concept to individuals with access and functional needs.


What is the role of ethics and values in justice and the role of justice in ethics and values? How do we do them? These questions, ever-present and often unacknowledged, undergird efforts to survive, practice mutual aid, and work to prevent and address harms produced through disasters and environmental change.

Emerging from the teachings of Reverend Richard Krajeski and to honor his call, a group of his mentees, collaborators, and co-conspirators organized a special session at the July 2020 Natural Hazards Workshop, Just Dialogue: An Intergenerational Conversation on Justice, Sustainability, and Abundance. Enough is abundance, as Dick Krajeski, a longtime leader in the hazards community, was known for saying. In this way, he reminded us that that when we live as if we already have enough, we live sustainably and in ways that help lift oppression and reduce inequality and injustice. The session brought together people from diverse and intersecting places of Dick’s life for an intergenerational conversation about hope and healing, and invited the Natural Hazards community to engage in a just dialogue to which we bring our whole, true selves (open and vulnerable) to ask – what are the questions for the Natural Hazards community to be questioning, and to be asking, to motivate change and to move our systems of research and practice toward more equitable futures for all?


Emerging technologies have the potential to significantly change the way people work and function, with tremendous impacts on people and the societies in which they live. For emergency management practice, efficient and effective use of emerging technologies can save both lives and property, while also improving the way emergency managers communicate with the populations they serve. However, the use of emerging technologies can also have negative and unforeseen consequences. Thus, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of how emerging technologies function as a communications and information-sharing tool to improve the practice of emergency management.

Furthermore, as with the emergence of any new technology, social justice issues must be considered. For example, is an emerging technology affordable enough for all to use, or does the technology add to the so-called “digital divide,” increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots? Or does the emerging technology serve as an equalizer, providing access and availability for all socio-economic status groups? This chapter serves as an introduction to these issues and how they impact emergency management practice in a discussion of how the communication process functions, how emerging technologies impact communication strategies in emergency management, and the importance of including a social justice framework in emergency management operations and plans to understand how these emerging technology tools can be used to keep people and property safe from disasters.


Pages 201-209
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Cover of Justice, Equity, and Emergency Management
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Book series
Community, Environment and Disaster Risk Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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