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University of Delaware

Mississippi tornadoes: Researcher can discuss combined impact of disaster and COVID-19

13-Apr-2020 3:35 PM EDT, by University of Delaware

Several factors will contribute to recovery efforts following the large tornadoes that killed several people and caused significant damage in southern Mississippi on Easter Sunday.

Jennifer Trivedi, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware affiliated with the university’s Disaster Research Center, has researched and written about disasters in Mississippi and can talk about the many challenges the area will face, especially as the state sees more cases of COVID-19:

  • Ensuring that people who lost their homes in the tornado have a place to shelter that is both safe in general and safe for COVID-19 response is critical to helping them recover.
  • More broadly, it is also crucial that they receive needed aid for disaster recovery related to both COVID-19 and the tornadoes to enable housing, food and general security. This becomes especially complicated when systems like emergency management agencies, unemployment assistance, shelters and food banks are already stretched thin in trying to help so many.
  • Having access to emergency personnel who might help with things like FEMA aid programs, housing and food distribution needs to be done in a way that both allows people to get the assistance they need and limits contact to keep everyone safer from COVID-19. This process is, without a doubt, more complex and difficult than responding to just one disaster, but it's also important to make sure that people dealing with a sudden disaster are not forgotten about during the COVID-19 crisis.

Trivedi is the author of "Mississippi After Katrina: Disaster Recovery & Reconstruction on the Gulf Coast," which looked at the long-term recovery from Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Miss., and how the city, Katrina's impact and the recovery process were also shaped by a history of dealing with other hurricanes over time.

She can also talk in general about planning and impact of having dual crises – COVID-19 and other disasters – taking place at the same time.

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