Abstract: Environmental and Racial Justices Issues in Black Communities 2.5 Years after Major Disasters (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Environmental and Racial Justices Issues in Black Communities 2.5 Years after Major Disasters

Sunday, January 16, 2022
Independence BR F, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Arthur Ai, PhD, Professor, College of Communication, Tallahassee, FL
Background. According to the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey, 60.7% of men and 51.2% of women reported exposure to at least one traumatic event during their lives; natural disasters were one of the most commonly reported traumas experienced. The connection between traumatic event exposure and mental health outcomes has been well-studied. However, community-based disaster consequences have caught less attention from mental health researchers. Devastating traumatic events like major natural disasters often bring with them additional life stressors. For instance, hurricanes routinely result in the loss of electricity, personal property, jobs, and loved ones, all of which, for differing reasons, increase financial, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual strains on victims. Acute and chronic stress associated with the storms may not be assessable by standardized psychometric instruments but need more in-depth qualitative studies within the most vulnerable minority communities. The present study, thus, explored how H-Michael have damaged the Black communities with visual images taken there. Methods. Through strong support from Black organizations, the interviewer visited their un-recovered communities. The interviews were complied with the university IRB requirement for the Covid-19 pandemic measures. Because many Black families did not have Wi-Fi services and or computers, the information was collected through conference calls and recorded with a Hp-5 digital recorder. Interviewees were grouped with less than six individuals in each session (N=50) who were Black victims aged 18 and above. Recorded information was transcribed using Virbalink and then coded with inVivo. Results. With initial information, grounded theory was utilized to identify categories and subcategories with four main themes emerging. First, regarding the storm-damage disparities: the most severely impacted communities are Black communities, involving local churches, grade schools, small business, individual homes, and roads. The loss of electricity and water extended for months. Second, as for the process of community recovery after 2.5 years, the local wealthy and tourist areas have been quick fixed but it is not the case for Black communities. Many houses do not have roofs, but people still have to live in such houses. Some homes were abundant with ruins due to no fund for rebuild or for removing the mess. Some residents have left permanently for the same reasons. Of the three Black grade schools, only one has been rebuilt. Third, H-Michael revealed numerous disaster relief-related problems involving both Government and private agencies. The government help arrived late and was not timely available even arrived (far away from Black community). Insurance companies took advantage of Black people. FEMA displayed considerable communication problems, while many Blacks did not understand their terminology and had no access to resources. Finally, Black communities have grown stronger with faith and hope. Their organizations and professionals have assisted legal matters and consultation, playing a remarkable role in rebuilding, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Conclusion. The preliminary results demonstrates H-Michael related environmental, racial, social, and political justice issues. Further analysis is on the way to inform policy and practices in disaster reliefs. Clearly, social work profession should collaborate with underserved minority communities to promote social justic