Family Functioning and Well-Being in the Aftermath of Disaster: One Year after the 2013 High River, Alberta Flood

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Caroline MCDONALD-HARKER, Mount Royal University, Canada
Eva BOGDAN, University of Alberta, Canada
On June 20, 2013 catastrophic and unprecedented flooding took place in Alberta, resulting in damages estimated as exceeding $5 billion dollars, the second costliest environmental disaster in Canadian history. The town of High River, Alberta a small rural community just South of Calgary, Alberta was the hardest hit by the floods. All 13,000 residents of High River were evacuated, and not allowed to return to their homes for several weeks. In the aftermath of the flood, many families faced severe damages to their home, places of employment, their children’s school, and local recreational facilities. Many families also faced social, emotional, and psychological difficulties. In a Canadian context, little is known about how family life is altered by disasters, particularly in relation to family functioning. Specifically, little is known about how families manage, function, and cope following disasters. Using qualitative data collected through face-to-face interviews conducted with 105 parents residing in High River, Alberta, this study examines the impact of the flood on intimate partner relationships, work roles and responsibilities both inside and outside the home, parent-child relationships, family-school involvement, and overall family recovery needs. We discuss the significance and implications of the findings, which help bridge the gap between family needs and the services provided post-disaster and contribute to furthering knowledge about pragmatic and representative changes to resources and policies surrounding disaster response, recovery, mitigation, and preparedness.