Date of Conferral







Susan Marcus


Although research has been conducted on the short-term effects of natural and human-made disasters on individuals and families, few researchers have examined the experiences of families during the recovery and rebuilding process when stressors may continue on many levels, sometimes for years later. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the experience of recovery for families during the 3-year period following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 through the theoretical lens of Bronfenbrenner's bio-ecological perspective. A narrative approach was used in order to understand the experience of natural disaster recovery and the meaning of recovery and coping for these families. Families in the surrounding area of Long Beach, New York were invited to participate. Six families who experienced Superstorm Sandy shared their experiences through interviews. Common themes were found among participants during the preparation for the storm, throughout the storm, and again during identified stages in the recovery process. Participants displayed both positive and negative coping styles and rated the helpfulness of various interventions. Findings from the study suggest that future researchers should focus on understanding the individual factors that may affect the decision to prepare for and evacuate during a large-scale natural disaster. The results of this study can be used by support services staff to develop and target interventions that address the common themes identified during the long-term recovery process. More effective interventions may lessen the length and intensity of suffering. Additionally, highlighting the importance of disaster preparedness may encourage individuals and communities to better prepare for disasters, possibly diminishing damage and losses.