Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Natural disasters-Massachusetts-Monson, Disaster relief-Massachusetts-Monson, Natural disasters-Psychological aspects, Emergency management, Social workers-Training of, Tornado, Disaster relief and recovery and preparedness, Role of social worker


Our climate today is unpredictable; the entire world is experiencing the dramatic, often cataclysmic, effects of climate change. From June 1, 2011 to October, 2011, in just 6 months, the small community of Monson, Massachusetts experienced a tornado, a hurricane and an out of season nor'easter blizzard. This qualitative case study examined what community leaders in Monson did to help the community recover. Participants in this study were people who became known and respected for the relief work they contributed to the town of Monson, during and after the tornado. Six participants were interviewed and asked to respond to a series of open-ended questions. Five major findings emerged from the narrative data: 1) Towns in Massachusetts should look to improve infrastructure prior to disasters. 2) The participants noted that a crisis in a community affects every member, even if some of those members are not directly affected. 3) In a time of crisis, social networking sites can keep townspeople linked and focused on recovery. 4) Although many victims were eligible for state and federal aid, many failed to take advantage of these benefits because they were misinformed or confused about eligibility. 5) A mental health professional offered community meetings on coping with trauma; however, they were poorly attended and/or responded to; this study participant was concerned that residents felt that to get mental health treatment would be stigmatizing. The major implication for social work practice born from this study is that social workers should be at the helm of disaster response. Trauma response is a specialized practice and not every social worker is knowledgeable or involved in emergency response. Social work programs need to incorporate disaster relief and preparedness in the curriculum.




iii, 119 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 98-103)