This paper explores the experiences of two communities affected by the June 23, 2016 floods in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. These towns were already vulnerable at the time of the floods, in part due to the decline of regional extractive industries in the past decades. As a result, the natural disaster added another layer of hardship to places that were already struggling. At the same time, the floods also revealed social capital that provided some resiliency to the disaster. Strong relationships and community pride resulted in neighbors donating time and labor to help each other recover and rebuild. The additional presence of outside faith-based organizations (FBOs) and other volunteer groups that arrived to assist with flood recovery deepened these aspects of social capital and sparked hope for future revitalization. Grounded in qualitative data, this paper explores how vulnerability and resiliency combined with a complex network of disaster response — including state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and FBOs—to shape relief efforts and create hope for the future in Greenbrier County. Given the increasingly common incidences of floods in the United States and predictions for increases in future flooding, this paper offers insights for natural disaster recovery applicable within and beyond Appalachia.


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pp. 235-253
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