Key to Disaster Recovery Is Neighborhood Connections, Like in Baltimore Rowhouses

From Baltimore Sun writer Jean Marbella: "Have you ever noticed how people just seem to know your business around here? Maybe it's bred into the culture, part of our rowhouse roots or that whole smallest-big-city thing, but no man is an island in Baltimore. "Engaged neighbors, Daniel P. Aldrich tells me, are key to surviving and recovering from natural disasters.  He knows that from his academic research — the political scientist has found that the most important factor in surviving and recovering from disasters like the tsunami in Japan and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans was having strong social connections within your community.

"Perhaps it was inevitable that Aldrich moved to the area in a week that brought both an earthquake and now a hurricane.  On leave from Purdue University, where he is an associate professor of political science, he moved to Silver Spring to start a fellowship next month at USAID, the foreign assistance agency, in Washington.

"Aldrich has found that often, people who survive disasters have been rescued by their neighbors rather than first responders, given that emergency personnel simply can't get to everyone, or get blocked by downed trees or flooded streets.  He calls this neighborhood-level intelligence 'social capital,' but it sounds a lot like good old-fashioned gossip, over-the-fence chatter."  Full article here.