Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Kelly Giraud

Second Advisor

Mary Friedman

Third Advisor

John Halstead


This thesis addresses regional, state, and county-level community resiliency to disasters along the United States East Coast. Research objectives include understanding the role of vulnerability and resiliency in disaster management, measuring community resilience in a new geographical area, and identifying strengths and weaknesses in community capitals, as related to disaster management. Community resilience in this study is measured by implementing an indexing method to fourteen states (129 counties) along the U.S East Coast. The community disaster resilience index (CDRI) consists of measuring four community capitals (human, physical, social, and economic) according to the relevant disaster management activities identified in the original research (Mayunga, 2009), using 69 indicators. The CDRI consists of the four sub-indices (community capitals) averaged together for a composite score, reflecting a county’s community resilience capacity. Additionally, scores are evaluated spatially using ArcGIS for statistically significant hot and cold spots within the study area. Results of the index showed that counties in the northeast generally outscored those in the mid-Atlantic and southeast in both the composite index score as well as all four sub-index scores. Mid-Atlantic counties also generally ranked higher than the southeast. The highest performing state was Massachusetts with an average county CDRI score of 0.705 and the lowest performing state was Georgia with a county average CDRI score of -0.420. The spatial analysis found hot and cold spots for the composite CDRI as well as the sub-indices. Hot spots are generally located in the Greater Boston area as well as the New York City Metropolitan area, and occasionally extends north into New Hampshire and Maine. Cold spots are almost entirely located in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.