Factors influencing community recovery decision making : a case study of recovery from the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Woolf, Erica Taylor
Decision making
Disaster recovery
Emergency Management
Fort McMurray wildfires
Public Participation
When large-scale disasters impact entire communities, entire communities must in turn collectively negotiate the recovery process and the associated recovery decisions. While these decisions affect the recovery outcomes of the community as a whole, they also impact on each of the community’s constituent members. How resources are allocated and which interests are privileged during recovery can directly contribute to the varying recovery outcomes experienced by different members of a community. In this context, the process of deciding who gets what, when and how during disaster recovery becomes especially relevant. With this in mind, the following case study explores the recovery decision-making process in light of recovery from the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. The study asks: Which factors influenced whether and how the values, perceptions, needs, and interests of community groups in Fort McMurray were identified, solicited and prioritized in the community recovery decision-making process following the 2016 wildfires? For this purpose, a single-case, exploratory case study was undertaken, with data collected through semi-structured interviews with 16 participants representing a variety of community groups from Fort McMurray one-year after the fires. From the study, three factors emerged as influential to the recovery decision-making experiences of these community groups: organizational relationships, organizational capacity and the perceived value of non-profit organizations. Overall, this study suggests that these factors may influence how disaster-impacted communities solicit, identify and prioritize the competing interests of their constituent members during recovery, and therefore highlights potential areas for further research into community participation during recovery from disasters.
Harmful Language Statement