The Role of Community-Based Organizations in Sudden-Onset and Chronic Disasters: the Case of Jackson, Mississippi, USA

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Virginia Tech


In August of 2022, the Pearl River in Mississippi flooded and caused damage to the water treatment plant that serves Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson residents are familiar with water insecurity as there has been an ongoing water crisis for decades. The temporary closure of the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant brought national attention and with it, an influx of funding and donations. This article uses the City of Jackson as a case study to learn from community-based organizations (CBO) representatives to understand different types of preparedness and response actions by using Organizational Learning as the primary motivating theory. This project uses 16 semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted between September 2023 and February 2024. All participants held a department director or CEO position within a CBO, and data was analyzed to document their responses and how they reacted in the wake of sudden-onset and chronic hazards and disasters. Numerous representatives shared their organization’s experiences responding to events spanning as far back as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and as recently as the winter freeze of January 2024. The positions that many Jackson CBOs and their representatives occupy undoubtedly make them excellent contributors to learn from and better understand community-based disaster preparedness and response.



Organizational Learning, Disaster-Prone Environment, Community-Based Organizations, Nonprofits, Faith-Based Organizations, Floods, Water Crisis