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J Emerg Manag. 2018 Sep/Oct;16(5):289-310. doi: 10.5055/jem.2018.0379.

Post-disaster place attachment: A qualitative study of place attachment in the wake of the 2013 Moore tornado.

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Student, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
Associate Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
Arch Student, Department of Architecture, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma.
President, BrokoppBinder Research and Consulting, Allentown, Pennsylvania.


Place attachment is the social, emotional, and functional bond people experience with a specific geographic area. The formation of this bond is based on several different characteristics of the place, such as property values, local relationships, and employment opportunities as well as the internal attributes of a person, such as age, gender, and income. While gaining an understanding of place attachment through these characteristics and attributes is indispensable to our understanding of disaster recovery, few studies have explored this relationship using qualitative methods. Here, the authors address two main questions: how does place attachment vary among different groups of individuals, and what factors contribute to place attachment in a disaster context? This study included a survey of 772 citizens of Moore, Oklahoma, who lived in the path of the May 20, 2013, tornado and decided to rebuild in situ after disaster. The authors explored place attachment using open-response questions probing residents' perceptions of their place of living. The authors found 18 common codes within their descriptions, in which community (social network), infrastructure, and commercial were the three most commonly cited parameters. Also, comparisons of participants' groups such as age and income showed that distinguishable parameters have formed post-disaster place attachment within different groups of participants.


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