Exploring Community Resilience in Workforce Communities of First Responders Serving Katrina Survivors


  • Karen Fraser Wyche is now at Howard University.

concerning this article should be addressed to Karen Fraser Wyche, Women’s Health Institute, Howard University, 2041 Georgia Ave., NW, Suite 6000, Washington, DC 20060. Electronic mail may be sent to karenwyche@gmail.com.


Community resilience activities were assessed in workplace teams that became first responders for Hurricane Katrina survivors. Community resilience was assessed by a survey, focus groups, and key informant interviews. On the survey, 90 first responders ranked their team’s disaster response performance as high on community resilience activities. The same participants, interviewed in 11 focus groups and 3 key informant interviews, discussed how their teams engaged in community resilience activities to strengthen their ability to deliver services. Specifically, their resilient behaviors were characterized by: shared organizational identity, purpose, and values; mutual support and trust; role flexibility; active problem solving; self-reflection; shared leadership; and skill building. The implications for research, policy, practice, and education of professionals are discussed.