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Grassroots Community Organizing as Climate Adaptation: Building Post-Hurricane Resilience From the Ground Up

Authors: Diamond Holloman*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Cultural and Political Ecology, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Flooding, Lived Experience, Vulnerability, Racism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:15 PM
Room: Virtual Track 2
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Focusing on the case of grassroots post-disaster landscape in South Lumberton, North Carolina, after Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, this project examines under what conditions African-American residents mobilized following Hurricanes Matthew (2016) and Florence (2018) to act on their own environment; how their mobilization counters the typical top-down narrative of disaster aid in these “socially vulnerable” communities, and what effects this mobilization has had on local hurricane preparedness and community resilience. Using semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and Photovoice, I find that many of the mechanisms by which systemic racism and racial capitalism abound also act in post-disaster recovery landscapes; these landscapes become the spaces for inequalities to persist and be strengthened through inefficient and non-culturally relevant “relief,” making community organizing a method of adaptation to increasingly frequent extreme weather events. Understanding the deep entanglements of social processes with ecological processes and outcomes in hydro-social configurations, like South Lumberton, is a necessity in understanding how to make residents less vulnerable to the long-term impacts of hurricanes. Grasping these concepts also provides a clearer lens through which policy makers can engage with racially/ethnically marginalized communities in productive and useful conversations of what recovery following natural disasters could look like.

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