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After the Disaster: Re-creating Community and Well-Being at Buffalo Creek since the N ...

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After the Disaster:


T. P. Schwartz-Barcott has done a great service to those of us who study, work, and live in rural communities. In this book, he provides detailed discussions with local residents, survey data, and a gift for integration that allows the reader to gain an understanding of how disasters impact communities in the short term and in the long term. The latter may be one of the most important contributions of this book.

Those of us who have studied rural people and places often have focused on a snapshot in time as we attempt to understand how human beings are impacted by change at the local community level. Community once was declared dead as a unit of analysis for social science scholars, yet the citizens who live in these places find that their attachments to place and to other people in these places are crucial to their lives. Too often, we who study such phenomena fail to examine the long-term impacts of shocks to place and people. This methodological failing often leads to exaggerated estimations of the impacts of disasters on communities and their residents. Human beings and the social structures they create are resilient. Schwartz-Barcott fills some of the gaps in our knowledge when he returns repeatedly to Buffalo Creek for several years long after the flash flood departed in 1972.