Date of Conferral
Many U.S. communities experience tornadoes each year, causing a significant number of deaths and injuries. Proper community preparation and response can help reduce human suffering and psychological trauma that occur following a tornado. However, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology most U.S. communities in tornado-prone areas are unprepared for a violent tornado, and there are few national, state, or local tornado-related definitions, standard or code to guide preparations. Social constructionism was the underlying theory of this qualitative study. The purpose of this study was to improve tornado preparations by examining the experiences of community leaders following a rare category 5 tornado occurring in Joplin, Missouri in 2011. The key research question considered the experiences of Joplin community leaders following the tornado. Twelve community leaders, 4 females and 8 males participated in individual face-to-face interviews, and were asked about preparations, emergency responses, trauma services and rebuilding. Giorgi's descriptive phenomenological method was used to analyze data. Findings include specific recommendations to improve community preparation, emergency response, trauma service and rebuilding. Community leaders experienced difficulty in coordinating appropriate resources to meet individual victim needs. They described ways in which the community was unprepared and changes that could be made in the future. This study may contribute to positive social change by providing communities with knowledge about tornado preparation and response to improve networks, reduce fatalities, injuries, trauma effects, and property damage in tornado prone areas.