Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

USM Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

First Advisor

Jennifer First, PhD, MSW

Second Advisor

Donna Wampole, DSW, LCSW

Third Advisor

Rachel Casey, PhD, MSW


hurricane response, hurricane recovery, responders, volunteers


As climate changes continue, natural disasters are increasing in severity and prevalence. The recovery process is lengthy, requiring a large number of disaster professionals and volunteers in order to assist with the extensive damage from a hurricane (Drabczyk & Schaumleffel, 2006). This research explores the challenges and protective factors of individuals that assist communities in response and recovery efforts after a hurricane makes landfall. Examining the responder’s perspective can provide insight into the natural disaster response and recovery field. Ten individuals throughout the United States with varying experiences (e.g., providing immediate hurricane relief, long-term hurricane recovery projects) were interviewed for this qualitative study that uses a thematic approach. Results found that while there is a plethora of challenges faced by individuals working in this field, there are useful and practical protective factors that can be utilized. The findings of this study may inform social workers or other helping professions as they assist responders in their personal and professional lives before, during, and after a disaster deployment or a long-term recovery project.


This thesis is restricted to USM access only.