Community Resurgence in Disastrous Times (Week 1 Post)

Disasters, weather they be natural or pandemic, are trailing times for communities. In the wake of natural disasters such as Huricane Katrina and the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, people’s lives were turned upside down and changed forever. Fortunately, people from local and even far away communities came together and supported those in need.

In the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, tons of support groups formed from members outside the Gulf Area and New Orleans community to come and help those in need. People came to distribute food, build dwellings, and help in a variety of supportive ways. Solnit’s article discussed how in dire times of need such as disasters, grassroot organizations are quickly able to form and go to work directly helping those in need quicker than larger government institutions. This is great not only because people in need are getting support, but also because it shows how complete strangers to a community are willing to put their lives on hold and help out those affected by a disaster. Somewhat similarly, 3/11 disaster surviver Sachiko Takeda discussed how co-workers brought food and supplies to devastated co-workers to help lend support during Japan’s time of crisis. We see this behavior in our communities today during the Coved-19 outbreak with people helping elderly citizens in need. With there being a higher chance for elderly people to be exposed to the virus, lots of volunteer organizations have opened in quick response to purchase and deliver essential foods and supplies to senior citizen’s homes to keep them safe.

In Rebecca Solnit’s “Beloved Communities”, she opens by talking about how the Bush administration not only didn’t take much action in supporting the recovery efforts for communities affected by Hurricane Katrina, but that they even had evidence that the disaster was going to hit before hand yet did nothing to try and protect community citizens. Similarly, the Japanese government also held out on supporting community members greatly affected buy the 3/11 disaster by deeming the only “victims” of the tragedy to be those who had lost their home, despite if they had lost businesses, loved ones, or every other possession within their home. It’s unfortunate that help didn’t come sooner on either a government or local level to highly affected communities sooner as was the case with local community support for Kartina victims. As Kazuya Sakurai said in the 3/11 disaster reading, “We must strive to pass on our experiences to future generations”, which is extremely important for implementing new ways of living, saftey procedures, and ways of thought for preventing similar disasters from happening.

While both communities affected by the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami as well as communities affected by hurricane Katrina have both showed extreme resiliance and appreciation, other less affected communities are tending to view these dissasters as a passing moment that has ended. Teppei Kajika said something to this in the 3/11 disaster reading, about how people shouldn’t let the disaster of 3/11 just pass over them like a temporary event that’s ended. The resilience of survivors and the community outreach perfomed for support and recovery is something to be celebrated, but I believe it’s important to always keep lessons learned from events in our mind and use the experiences as learning opportunities for the future. A somewhat recent example of this type of change is how airline security greatly increased following the 9/11 terrorist attack. With our current Coved-19 situation, maybe we will start taking more sanitation safety precautions that we didn’t before the outbreak. Maybe it won’t be unusual to see face masks commonly worn by people in the United States anymore, a practice already going on in many other large countries.

Many other survivors of the Japan 3/11 disaster talked about how they not only felt grateful to be alive and safe, but also about how thankful they were to know that their fellow communities and peers really cared about their wellbeing .I believe a lot of people are probably feeling that same sense of appreciation here during the Coved-19 outbreak, and I bet staying home with their families and having more time to reconnect is also bringing about a change in people. I think through social distancing people will hopefully realize that they aren’t as gratifyingly connected to others through electronic means as they though, and hopefully will appreciate having a phone conversation and meeting in person with peers instead of just checking in via social media. Maybe we’ll even see a change in the way people work, with people being able to work from home enjoying the abundance of more time they can spend with their families creating a demand for more at home employment opportunitites. One thing is for certain, after an event like any of these discussed, things shouldn’t go back to the exact way they were before, both operationally and mentally. While we will find a way out of this crisis, we must keep our mindset attuned to the lessons learned from this event to prepare for the future.


P.S. I know I’m not actually in the class, just waitlisted, but I wanted to do the work just in case I hopefully can make it in the class!



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John Cavoulas

Hello, I’m John, third year student at UCSD majoring in Communications and Minoring in Japanese Studies.