RAPID: Disparities in Business and Nonprofit Impact and Recovery from Hurricane Harvey, COVID-19, and Hurricane Laura Grant uri icon


  • Reducing the effects of disasters on businesses and nonprofits is growing in importance as disasters are more frequent. However, understanding of disaster impacts and recovery across a variety of organizational types is still relatively limited. For example, while disparities in recovery for organizations owned by women, veterans, or racial minorities have been observed, the underlying mechanisms are not well established. In addition, understanding of how businesses and nonprofits recover from multiple and cascading impacts (such as hurricanes followed by a pandemic followed by another hurricane) is also only beginning to develop. This Rapid Response Research (RAPID) project extends preliminary research conducted following Hurricane Harvey to examine disaster impacts, including cumulative impacts, and disparate recovery processes associated with the current pandemic and additional coastal storms along the Gulf Coast. Findings will have implications for improved strategies for organizational survival and recovery, provide evidence that can be used for coordinated outreach and educational programs to support organizational planning and adaptation, and enable cross-case research. This study integrates theory and findings from the disaster recovery literature with a social vulnerability perspective. The research team will geographically and conceptually expand beyond previous surveys and interviews of for-profit and nonprofit organizations after Hurricane Harvey, collecting data on organizational performance during COVID-19 and Hurricane Laura in Beaumont, TX, Port Arthur, TX, and Lake Charles, LA. The study will test how social vulnerability factors affect organizational impacts, survival, and recovery, controlling for resources, organizational characteristics, damage, and adaptive actions. It will also examine how disparities in organizational recovery propagate through multiple events, controlling for resources, organizational characteristics, damage, and adaptive actions. The team is uniquely poised to collect data quickly as it has conducted pre-disaster survey and sample verification in Beaumont and Port Arthur, tested survey methodology and best practices for this region, and has administered a previous multi-hazard survey that can be tailored for this context. This research team will work to gather data quickly in order to minimize survivor bias (i.e., before some of the vulnerable organizations fail and therefore are not represented in the study sample). Results will be relevant to the literature on cumulative disaster impacts and adaptation, social vulnerability, and organizational continuity. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • 2020 - 2021