Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Graham A. Tobin, Ph.D.


Disaster management, Hazards, Risk, Vulnerability, Human geography


Global trends show increasing losses from disasters as the number of people at risk grows by 70 to 80 million per year (United Nations, 2004). Although the frequency of natural disasters may be constant the human interaction with the given hazard has shifted through changes in development practices, environmental protection as well as the distribution of population and wealth. In an effort to combat the negative social, economic, and environmental impacts of hazards, strategies for identifying vulnerable populations and implementing mitigation measures is a high priority in hazards research. However despite our best efforts disasters have and will continue to negatively impact communities resulting in loss of life and property. To that end nations must establish effective emergency response capabilities to meet the needs of all residents potentially at harm.

This study examined the establishment of a comprehensive emergency management (CEM) system in the nation of The Bahamas. Employing a longitudinal study design to examine the six study hurricanes: Andrew 1992, Floyd 1999, Michelle 2001, Frances 2004, Jeanne 2004, and Wilma 2005. The goal of this research was two fold; first, to test Quarantelli's (1997a) methodology for evaluating the management of disaster response to determine if it could be operationalized and second, to compare response operations under CEM with response operations prior to its implementation. Mixed methods were used to collect and analyze data. Data for the study were collected over a six-year period from 2001-2007. The following data collection techniques were employed for this study: (1) archival research, (2) structured surveys, (3) semi-structured interviews, and (4) participant observation.

Data were analyzed in using three key tools: First, the surveys and closed-ended questions associated with the interviews were analyzed using standard statistical techniques. The data were then applied to 8 of the 10 criteria for measuring the management of national disaster response operations as outlined by Quarantelli (1997a). Finally, data were applied to the Model of Community Response to Disaster (Hughey, 2003). Results indicated that Quarantelli's (1997a) model for evaluating the management of disaster response could be operationalized. Findings also revealed an association between the implementation of a CEM system and improvements in disaster response within The Bahamas.