DRC-Disaster Research Center

Quick Response Studies

Researchers at DRC have conducted over 600 field studies since the Center’s inception, traveling to communities throughout the United States and to a number of foreign countries. DRC researchers have carried out systematic studies on a broad range of disaster types, including but not limited to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous chemical incidents, plane crashes, and civil disturbances. This page provides details for a number of recent quick response research efforts at DRC.


Humanitarian Response to Haiti Earthquake

When a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, millions of people were impacted. Hundreds of thousands of people died or were severely injured, and there was widespread and severe damage to property and infrastructure. Within two weeks, researchers from the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center (DRC) traveled to Florida and the Dominican Republic to begin to understand the immense humanitarian operation underway to assist the devastated nation.

The Social impacts and Consequences of the May 12 2008 Wenchuan, China Earthquake (2008)

In August 2008, Tricia Wachtendorf, assistant professor of sociology and associate director of the Disaster Research Center (DRC), participated in a  two week reconnaissance trip to Sichuan Province, China. Part of a multi-disciplinary team from across the country and supported by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the National Science Foundation, Dr. Wachtendorf's work focused on the societal and community impacts of the May 12th earthquake that devastated the region. The team was accompanied by representatives of the China Earthquake Administration. In addition to visiting impacted areas and temporary relief camps, Wachtendorf met with Chinese scholars conducting long-term research in the region.

Hurricane Katrina Field Work (2005)

Researchers from the University of Delaware enagged in a number of field work activites in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. About three weeks after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, DRC deployed eight researchers to various places in the impacted region for between five and ten days per team, to engage in several forms of data collection, including interviews (n = 150), participant observations, and systematic document gathering. Field teams visited a variety of locations
including Houston, Texas (the Astrodome and the Reliant Arena); Mississippi (including Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian); and Louisiana (including Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and St. Tammany). Specific sites visited included the Joint Field Office (JFO)–the headquarters for the federal response to Katrina—and shelters in the three states. Extensive field observations were also conducted at local response centers, Disaster Recovery Centers, and impacted zones.DRCteams talked to local, state, and federal officials; relief workers; evacuees; and others who responded to the hurricane and consequent flooding.

The Social Impacts and Consequences of the Indian Ocean Tsunami : Observations from India and Sri Lank (2004)

Less than one month after the disaster, researchers from the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center (DRC) and the University of North Texas’ Emergency Administration and Planning Program (EAPP) traveled to some of the most heavily impacted areas of India and Sri Lanka. Assisted by Dr. A. Subramanian (Political Scientist, Madras Christian College, in Madras, India) and Dr. Ram Alagan (Department of Geography, University of Peradeniya and affiliated with the International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES) in Kandy, Sri Lanka,the field team spent approximately one week in each of the two countries and was able to collect an extensive amount of data and information on the social impacts of the tsunami, the immediate response and relief effort, and the preliminary planning stage of the recovery effort.

Organizational and Community Resilience in the World Trade Center Disaster (2001)

This project focused on the manner in which emergency management and crisis-relevant organizations in the City of New York coordinated with other responding organizations and jurisdictions to develop multi-organizational strategies for managing the World Trade Center Disaster. The project uses the World Trade Center attack and its aftermath as a case study to address longstanding issues in the disaster research literature, such as the relationship between planning, emergence, and improvisation in disaster response activities; how multi-organizational response networks develop and function; and how resilience is achieved in complex response networks. Research activities for this study consist of field work and direct observation in settings in which response and recovery activities are coordinated; interviewing; and document collection and analysis.