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Jolt to the system: Measuring disaster-induced social disruption through water consumption, sales tax revenue, and crime data

Hackerott, Caroline S.
This project examines the potential for quantifying the degree of social disruption and varying paths toward system restabilization by using data routinely collected by municipalities. Social disruption was measured by studying monthly patterns of water consumption, sales tax revenue, and crime data following the 2013 EF-5 Moore, Oklahoma tornado and the July and August 2012 wildfires in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Using two similar cities experiencing different disaster agents provided an opportunity to establish important similarities and differences in the level of social disruption created and how this disruption is manifested in the different "rhythms of life" within a city. This research was grounded on previous work related to social time, social routine, and disaster (Neal, 2004, 2013). This study documents how different components of both cities re-established the rhythm of life resulting in a similar but new normal.
Data collected on water consumption, sales tax revenue and crime patterns for four fiscal years for Moore and Stillwater, Oklahoma illustrate pre-impact, impact, and initial restabilization period social patterns. Following time series analysis, preliminary findings indicate these variables are valid measures of municipal social time and demonstrate disaster-induced disruption. Comparison among different variable patterns indicates that magnitude of impact and speed of restabilization appear to follow different patterns. This project suggests that social routine may be used to establish a Degree of Disaster Index to allow direct comparisons across multiple events and the study of long-term system restabilization.