The key to resilience after disasters is the provision of coordinated care and resource distribution to the affected community. Past research indicates that the general public lacks an understanding regarding agencies’ roles and responsibilities during disaster response.
This study’s purpose was to explore the general public’s beliefs regarding agencies or organizations’ responsibilities related to resource management during disasters. In addition, the public’s attitudes towards the management and use of community disaster assistance centers were explored.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with members of the general public. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was used to analyze the data and identify themes that describe the public’s expectations of disaster response agencies and the use of community disaster assistance centers.
A total of 28 interviews were conducted. Half of the participants (n=14) were black, 57% (n=16) were female, and the mean age was 49 years. The general public has developed trust and distrust toward response organizations and governmental agencies based on past experiences during disasters. The public wishes to have local agencies to help lead disaster response, but expects a collaboration between all response organizations, including the government. The managing agency overseeing community disaster assistance centers was not perceived as important, but the proximity of these centers to community members was considered critical.
The general public prefers that local agencies and leaders manage disaster response, and they expect collaboration among response agencies. Community assistance centers need to be located close to those in need, and be managed by agencies trusted by the general public. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:446–449)