Building resilient communities: Lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

September 27, 2016 – Long Beach, MS

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During this seminar, researchers and panelists identified traits that made communities more resilient after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, discussed programs and resources that are available to communities, and shared lessons learned in overcoming disasters and identified further ways to increase community resiliency. Recordings of the presentations and panel discussions are below.

Identifying traits that make communities resilient

Building resilient communities: An overview

Larissa Graham is the Oil Spill Science Specialist with the Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. During her talk, she provided an overview of the Oil Spill Science Outreach Program, the agenda for the seminar, and what resilience means. View recording here.

Resilience and the preservation of capital: Social, political, economic, and human

David Abramson is an Associate Professor at NYU’s College of Global Public Health and the director of NYU’s Program on Population Impact, Recovery, and Resilience. During his talk, Dr. Abramson outlined the four types of capital that come into play post-disaster. View recording here.

Community resilience and marine oil spills: Lessons from the Exxon Valdez and BP Deepwater Horizon disasters

Duane A. Gill is Professor and Interim Head of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Disasters and Extreme Events at Oklahoma State University. During his talk, Dr. Gill outlined the difference between natural disasters and man-made disasters, such as oil spills. He also outlined lessons learned from and social impacts of the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon spills. View recording here.

Mental health in Louisiana women after Deepwater Horizon: The WaTCH study

Ariane Rung is currently an Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Public Health in New Orleans. During her talk, Dr. Rung gave an overview of the Women and Their Children’s Health (WaTCH) study, which has monitored the health of more than 2,500 women and 600 chilren post-spill. View recording here.

Building resilience after multiple disasters:  Role of religiosity and social support

Katie E. Cherry is a Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with research expertise in adult development and aging. During her presentation, Dr. Cherry outlined how religiosity and silver-lining themes were revealed when talking with communities in SE Louisiana that had lived through multiple disasters, including the oil spill. View recording here.

Studies of meaning, reliance, and self-efficacy: Mississippi coastal residents and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Lauren N. Weathers is a clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Mississippi. During her talk, Ms. Weathers shared her work tracking the psychological impact of the oil spill, which has tracked resilience, perceived meaning, and self-efficacy in more than 1,000 adults in coastal Mississippi. View recording here.

Perceived resilience: What we think of ourselves matters

Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling is a Professor of Psychology at the University of South Alabama. She is currently the Director of the Gulf Coast Behavioral Health and Resiliency Center, where the mission is to expand capacity for mental and behavioral health services to children, families, and vulnerable populations. During her talk, Dr. Langhinrichsen-Rohling shared the results of a study that looked at perceived resilience and its effect on post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in more than 800 residents in Alabama. View recording here.

Morning question and answer session

The speakers all returned at the end of the morning session to answer questions from those in the room and remote listeners about community resilience. Click here to listen to that conversation.

Identifying resources that are available to coastal residents

This panel discussed various resources and programs started after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They provided brief introductions about the work that they do and then talked about lessons learned, challenges they faces, and resources that are needed for future work. View the PDF here. Listen to the recording here.

Panelists included:

  • Daniel Hahn is the Plans Section Chief for the Santa Rosa County Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the coordinator of SAFER Santa Rosa, the county COAD.
  • Ayanna V. Buckner is the chairperson of the Coordinating Committee of the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which is a series of integrated, five-year projects developed as part of the Deepwater Horizon Medical Settlement to strengthen healthcare in Gulf Coast communities.
  • LT Elizabeth Tatum is with Coast Guard Sector Mobile’s Incident Management Division. Members of her unit are the Coast Guard’s first responders to pollution cases in the area.
  • Janel Lowman has over a decade’s worth of experience in community outreach and education at the University of South Alabama. Since 2012, she has served as the Training and Outreach Coordinator for the USA Coastal Resource and Resiliency Center.
  • Melissa Finucane is a Senior Social and Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute. She is also Director of the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities, funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

Identifying future needs of our coastal communities

This panel discussed various resources and programs started after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They provided brief introductions about the communities that they represent. They also discussed how the oil spill impacted their communities and what their communities need to be more resilient. Listen to the recording here.

Panelists included:

  • Robert Turpin is a Resources Manager for Escambia County (Florida).
  • Thao Vu serves as Director for the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks and Families, a non-profit organization.
  • David J. Gauthe is a former Senior Community Organizer with BISCO, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing.
  • Emily Blejwas is the Director of the Gulf States Health Policy Center, housed at BayouClinic in Bayou La Batre, AL.

Additional resources

View the flyer – click here 
View the full agenda – click here
View the speaker bios – click here
Notes from discussion – click here