Neighbors Helping Neighbors: An Examination of the Social Capital

Mobilization Process for Community Resilience to Environmental Disasters

Mary B. LaLone

Journal of Applied Social Science 6(2) 209–237, Fall 2012, SAGE Publications.


This article argues that planning for community resilience to environmental disasters needs to

give greater consideration to the potentials for response and recovery contributions available

through local-level, informal social capital networks, as well as from the more formal policy

and planning channels. To demonstrate the potential for mobilizing social capital resources to

aid disaster response and recovery, the article provides a microlevel examination of the social

capital mobilization process that occurred after tornadoes unexpectedly struck a rural Appalachian region in April 2011. It examines the mobilization process and types of labor and supply resources rapidly generated through community-level social networks in the first weeks of disaster response and recovery. The article situates this study in the context of social capital

disaster literature, and considers its lessons and applications for disaster planning.


environmental disasters, social capital, community-based research, community resilience,

emergency disaster planning

Community Resilience to Environmental Disasters