Examining Factors Contributing Spontaneous Volunteerism in a Disaster Situation: The Case of the 2009 Red River Flood

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
D.K. YOON , School of Urban and Environmental Engineering, Ulsan Nat Inst Science & Technology, Ulsan, South Korea
George YOUNGS , North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
Spontaneous volunteers play a significant role in times of disaster.  Before governmental and organized voluntary disaster agencies arrive in sufficient strength, civilian volunteers often spontaneously mobilize to protect their lives and belongings in the early period of disaster. This study uniquely examines the characteristics of spontaneous volunteers at three different levels of flood stage risk during Fargo, North Dakota’s response to the 2009 Red River flood threat. The Red River crested at a record level on March 28, 2009. More than 20,000 civilian volunteers spontaneously mobilized and gave of their time to respond to the threat of Red River flooding. Unaffiliated volunteers signed-up at coordination sites throughout the city and filled more than 3 million sandbags and piled these sandbags along the riverfront.  Sign-up data from 11,553 volunteers were geocoded to connect volunteers to the local area’s 96 census block groups.  Data on these census block groups were then complied from the American Community Survey (ACS) 5 year data (2006-2010).  Factors in terms of socio-economic and geographical characteristics of spontaneous volunteers are examined before, during, and after the flood stage at the 2009 Red River Flood. Findings show that education, race, age, occupation, and geographic factors are significantly associated with volunteerism along with different levels of risk in the case of the 2009 Red River Flood.