Community cohesion after a natural disaster: insights from a Carlisle flood


Kirk Chang, School of Applied Social Sciences, University of Cumbria, Fusehill Street, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA1 2HH, United Kingdom. Telephone: 00 44 1228 616 326; fax: 00 44 1228 616 388; e-mail:


This project analysed changes in community cohesion following a natural disaster. Data were collected from a flood-affected community using a questionnaire survey. Analyses revealed that community cohesion was not predicted by the length of residence, or any other demographic characteristic of residents, but rather by a sense of community, community cognition and the degree of community participation. Cohesion alteration was not uniform, but varied along levels of hazard severity (degree of flood invasion). Cohesion increased in line with hazard severity at the initial flood stage, as residents recognised the importance of community unity and came together to cope with their losses. When the severity increased, residents transferred their focus to individual interests, which resulted in decreased cohesion. This project distinguishes itself in examining community cohesion in the wake of a natural disaster in the real world. Implications regarding community reconstruction and suggestions for hazard researchers are discussed accordingly.