Disasters are frequent in Texas, whether fire, hurricanes, floods, extreme weather, or COVID-19. They affect businesses both large and small, and highlight the vulnerabilities of infrastructural systems such as power, water, and broadband connectivity. While some disaster-recovery resources are available for businesses in Texas (e.g., GLO, FEMA, SBA), our team’s recent research indicates that small, often rural communities in Texas lack the resources to plan for or respond after disasters, as well as to write grants to assist in preparedness and recovery.
That is why we’ve teamed with an incredible program offered through IC2 called Home to Texas. In the summer of 2022, we have five students who have been talking with community members and business owners to learn more about their needs. We kicked the summer off with a trip to the Museum of South Texas History. To learn more, check out the blogs these students have written: Mariana Arevalo, Daniel Guerra, Andrea Martinez, Jennifer Torres, and José Manuel Vazquez. Keri Stephens, one of the faculty members, also attended this kick-off event, and she reflects on her experience here.
We have also put together some resources for businesses wanting to be more prepared for disasters. The next phases of our project will be conducting focus group research and sending out some surveys to help us refine our resource guide and develop materials for communities, especially in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Our team of Keri Stephens, Sharon Strover, Kasey Faust, and Tara Tasuji. Look forward to seeing the meaningful outcomes we can produce.