What about us? Reported experiences of disabled people related to the Christchurch earthquakes

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© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.
Internationally there is limited research on the experiences of people with disabilities during and following a major disaster. This research explores the reported experiences of disabled people related to the 2010-2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake series. Methods Qualitative inquiry involving purposive sampling and face to face interviews with 23 disabled people living in Christchurch during the earthquakes. The qualitative research was followed by a pilot quantitative survey involving 25 disabled people living in Christchurch during the earthquakes and 10 people who work in the disability sector. Qualitative interview material was analysed using thematic analysis while quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics. Results Disabled people preferred to shelter in place as their homes are organised to suit their specific needs. Our research suggests that urban disaster risk reduction strategies are needed that enhance opportunities for disabled people to maintain autonomy in an emergency situation. Key factors identified by participants that increase earthquake vulnerability among disabled people include a lack of personal disaster preparedness, public information that is not disability accessible and social isolation. Resilience was enhanced through disaster preparedness planning and good support networks. Implications: Individuals, communities and responding agencies could learn from the experiences of disabled people in order to improve preparation and response to disasters for vulnerable groups. Disaster recovery should be seen as an opportunity to reduce risk through avoiding recreating the conditions of vulnerability that may have existed previously
Precedia Economics and Finance, 2014, 18 pp. 190 - 197