Americus, Georgia: The Case Study of Disasters Serving the Role of Facilitators and Expeditors of Progress and Betterment
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It has long been debated whether a community is better off before or after being struck by a natural disaster. The aim of this study is to utilize the instance of Americus, Georgia, which was devastated by a tornado in 2007, as a case study to provide evidence for one opposing argument or the other. A problem in determining whether Americus has recovered and/or is in relatively better shape now is the economic recession. The recession masks the progress that Americus has made, and it exaggerates any regressions. Economic data was collected, interviews were conducted, and information was gathered regarding trends prior to and following the disaster from three similar Georgia cities to identify and compare trends in Americus. Most of the information for Americus, such as the economy, redevelopment, new construction, government infrastructure, and opinions of locals, is positive. This data seems to illustrate recovery, even though the community may not yet be in a more favorable position (but it most likely will be once the hospital is rebuilt). These findings project the theory that natural disasters of this magnitude have minimal negative to potentially positive effects on the economy, technology, and physical makeup of local regions in the medium to long term.
This article appeared in Homeland Security Affairs (February 2011), v.7 no.1