The aftermath of a disaster often results in the need for individual households and businesses to relocate to less hazardous locations but at other times movement can be necessary for larger numbers of both. In the latter case, deciding whether to move requires the interaction and concerted action of a variety of community stakeholders in a context fraught with many uncertainties. Unfortunately, existing research has paid little attention to how community-level stakeholders make relocation decisions under high uncertainty and how these decisions may be interrelated. Understanding such interdependencies requires using a more holistic approach than those adopted in prior relocation studies. Such an approach must acknowledge both the individual capacity of stakeholders in making relocation decisions and the broader contexts which influence these capacities. This study advances the NSF’s mission to promote the progress of science by generating scientific knowledge of the factors that affect community relocation decisions of households and businesses in highly uncertain and emergent institutional environments. By focusing on underserved communities, this study also advances NSF’s mission to promote national health, prosperity, and welfare of these communities which are often at the frontline of fast and slow-onset disaster events such as, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and sea level rise.
The study’s specific aims are to examine the following in highly uncertain and emergent institutional environments: (1) resources households and businesses use to make relocation decisions; (2) the inter-dependencies between household and business relocation decisions; and (3) the dependence of household and business relocation decisions upon the actions of nonprofits or volunteer groups. This three-year study uses an embedded, multi-case study and mixed-method research design in two rural, under-served and at-risk communities in Puerto Rico coastal (Loíza) and mountainous (Comerío) zones and their neighborhoods designated for relocation after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. These communities are not only at the frontline of multiple and concurrent, fast and slow-onset disaster events but also are dealing with high levels of political unrest and uncertain and constantly changing institutions. The study’s annual data collection methods include: (i) random sample surveys of households and businesses; (ii) multi-stakeholder key informant interviews; (iii) PhotoVoice project with residents; and (iv) multi-stakeholder Role Playing Games with residents.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.