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Tsegaye Tadesse, Nicole Wall, Michael Hayes, Mark Svoboda, and Deborah Bathke
Open access
Tsegaye Tadesse, Deborah Bathke, Nicole Wall, Jacob Petr, and Tonya Haigh
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Deborah J. Bathke, Holly R. Prendeville, Aaron Jacobs, Richard Heim, Rick Thoman, and Brian Fuchs
Free access
Theresa Jedd, Deborah Bathke, Duane Gill, Bimal Paul, Nicole Wall, Tonya Bernadt, Jacob Petr, Anthony Mucia, and Milan Wall

Abstract

Rural towns are especially susceptible to the effects of drought because their economies are dependent on natural resources. However, they are also resilient in many ways to natural hazards because they are rich in civic engagement and social capital. Because of the diverse nature of drought’s impacts, understanding its complex dynamics and its effects requires a multidisciplinary approach. To study these dynamics, this research combines appreciative inquiry, the Community Capitals Framework, and a range of climatological monitoring data to assess the 2012–14 Great Plains drought’s effect on McCook, Nebraska. Community coping measures, such as water-use reduction and public health programs, were designed to address the immediate effects of heat and scant rainfall during the initial summer and the subsequent years. Residents generally reported the community was better prepared than in previous droughts, including the persistent multiyear early-2000s drought. However, the results highlight wide variation in community perspectives about the drought’s severity and impacts, as well as divergent experiences and coping responses. Despite these factors, we find evidence of the transformative potential of moving from drought coping to drought mitigation. We attribute the city’s resilience to the ability to draw upon prior experience with droughts, having a formal municipal plan, and strong human and social capital to coordinate individual knowledge and expertise across agencies. We suggest that droughts have served a catalytic function, prompting the community to transform land-use practices, water conservation planning, and built infrastructure in lasting ways.

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Mary Noel, Deborah Bathke, Brian Fuchs, Denise Gutzmer, Tonya Haigh, Michael Hayes, Markéta Poděbradská, Claire Shield, Kelly Smith, and Mark Svoboda

Abstract

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), a weekly map depicting severity and spatial extent of drought, is used to communicate about drought in state and federal decision-making, and as a trigger in response policies, including the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural financial relief in the United States annually. An accompanying classification table helps interpret the map and includes a column of possible impacts associated with each level of drought severity. However, the column describing potential drought impacts is generalized for the entire United States. To provide more geographically specific interpretation of drought, state and regionally specific drought impact classification tables were developed by linking impacts chronicled in the Drought Impact Reporter (DIR) to USDM severity levels across the United States and Puerto Rico and identifying recurrent themes at each level. After creating state-level tables of impacts observed for each level of drought, a nationwide survey was administered to drought experts and decision-makers (n = 89), including the USDM authors, to understand whether the tables provided accurate descriptions of drought impacts in their state. Seventy-six percent of respondents indicated the state table was an acceptable or good characterization of drought impacts for their respective state. This classification scheme was created with a reproducible qualitative methodology that used past observations to identify themes in drought impacts across multiple sectors to concisely describe expected impacts at different levels of drought in each state.

Free access
Shelley D. Crausbay, Aaron R. Ramirez, Shawn L. Carter, Molly S. Cross, Kimberly R. Hall, Deborah J. Bathke, Julio L. Betancourt, Steve Colt, Amanda E. Cravens, Melinda S. Dalton, Jason B. Dunham, Lauren E. Hay, Michael J. Hayes, Jamie McEvoy, Chad A. McNutt, Max A. Moritz, Keith H. Nislow, Nejem Raheem, and Todd Sanford
Open access