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May 07, 2007

Residents Begin Recovery Process in the Aftermath of the
Worst Tornado to Hit the U.S. in Eight Years

Social scientists are available to comment on the tragedy and the recovery process.

Social scientists can comment on what is known about human and social relationships and structures that could help prevent or mitigate the consequences of disasters, dismiss common myths about disasters, analyze common mistakes in developing responses to disasters, and explain the mismatch between citizens’ needs and government and private industry responses. Sociologists can comment on how to improve preparedness for, response to, and recovery from, human-made and natural disasters.

Benigno E. Aguirre (302-831-0204 or is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware and a faculty member of the Disaster Research Center.

William A. Anderson (202-334-1523 or is associate executive director in the Division on Earth and Life Studies and director of the Disasters Roundtable in the National Research Council. For more than 20 years, he held various positions at NSF. While at NSF, his responsibilities included developing multidisciplinary natural hazards research programs and providing oversight for such large-scale research activities as the NSF-funded earthquake engineering research centers.

Lee Clarke, (732-445-5741 or Associate Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, writes about organizations, culture, and disasters. His early work concerned how decision makers choose among risks in highly uncertain environments. His publications include: Organizations, Uncertainties, and Risk, edited by James F. Short, Jr. and Lee Clarke; Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment;and Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas. He has written, and frequently lectures about, organizational failures, leadership, terrorism, panic, civil defense, evacuation, community response to disaster, organizational failure, and the World Trade Center disaster. His work was recently profiled in the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review. His latest book is Worst Cases: Imagining Terror and Calamity in the Modern Day.

Russell Dynes, (302-831-4202 or is a Research Professor and Founding Director of the University of Delaware Disaster Research Center (DRC). Dynes is the author or editor of ten books, including Organized Behavior in Disaster, Sociology of Disaster and Disasters, Collective Behavior and Social Organization and well over 100 articles, many on disaster related topics.

Elaine Enarson, (303.527.9987 or, Independent Scholar, is a disaster sociologist with a women's studies focus. Her research and publications have documented the impacts of hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes on women with attention to violence against women, women's work in disasters, and the proactive mobilization of women and women's organizations in disasters. She is the co-editor of The Gendered Terrain of Disasters, lead author of the FEMA online course on social vulnerability to disasters, and a founding member of the "Gender and Disaster Network."

Kai Erikson, (203-432-3326 or Professor Emeritus at Yale University, is an authority on the social consequences of catastrophic events. He won major awards from the ASA for his books Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance and Everything In Its Path. He is the author of A New Species of Trouble: Explorations in Disaster, Trauma, and Community. His research interests include American communities, human disasters, and ethnonational conflict. According to Erikson, what happens after a disaster is often at least as traumatic as the primary event itself. He has studied disasters such as the Buffalo Creek flood in West Virginia (1972), the Three Mile Island nuclear accident (1979), and the Exxon Valdez oil spill (1989). In addition to examining the long-term consequences of these events, Erikson has been active in efforts to secure compensation for the victims. He has been profiled in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Washington Post, NPR, and PBS.

Dennis Mileti, (303-492-6818) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Emeritus Director of the Natural Hazards Research Applications and Information Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is the author of over 100 publications. Most of these focus on the societal aspects of mitigation and preparedness for hazards and disasters. His Book, Disasters by Design (1999), involved over 130 experts to assess knowledge, research, and policy needs for hazards in the United States.

Walter Gillis Peacock
, (979-945-7853 or is Director of the Hazards Reduction and Recovery Center and at Texas A&M University (TAMU). He is a professor of urban planning at TAMU. His research focuses on natural hazards and human systems response to hazards and disasters with an emphasis on social vulnerability, evacuation, and the socio-political ecology of long-term recovery and mitigation. His articles have appeared in a variety of journals including American Sociological Review, Natural Hazards Review, and the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters. He has published two books on natural disasters. His latest coauthored book is Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, Gender and the Sociology of Disaster.

For more information, contact Sujata Sinha at 202-247-9871 or via email at

About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.