Kevin M. Fitzpatrick and Matthew L. Spialek – Hurricane Harvey's Aftermath

Kevin Fitzpatrick and Matthew L. Spialek discussed findings from their book, Hurricane Harvey's Aftermath, at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 1, 2021, as part of the Pryor Center Presents lecture series hosted by the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History.

Hurricane Harvey was one of the worst American natural disasters in recorded history. It ravaged the Texas Gulf Coast, and left thousands of people homeless in its wake. Fitzpatrick and Spialek offer first-hand accounts from survivors, providing a rare, on-the-ground perspective of natural disaster recovery. Drawing on interviews from more than 350 survivors, Fitzpatrick and Spialek trace the experiences of individuals and their communities, both rich and poor, urban and rural, white, Latinx, and Black, and how they navigated the long and difficult road to recovery after Hurricane Harvey. From Corpus Christi to Galveston, they paint a vivid, compelling picture of heartache and destruction, as well as resilience and recovery, as survivors slowly begin rebuilding their lives and their communities. This presentation highlights some of Fitzpatrick's and Spialek's insights from this year-long effort funded by the National Science Foundation.

Fitzpatrick, University Professor and Bernice Jones Chair in Community in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Arkansas, is a community sociologist with 35 years of experience as a researcher, consultant, and advocate. Since 2005, he has devoted the majority of his work-focus on helping communities throughout Arkansas better understand the challenges they face, and the types of strategies they might consider adopting to address those challenges. Fitzpatrick has published 6 books and nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters that have continually emphasized the theme that place matters. 

Spialek, assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Arkansas, is a disaster communication researcher. His research explores how individuals build relationships with organizations and local media in order to foster the civic vitality, public health, and resilience in communities that have experienced or are at risk of experiencing crises and disasters. Spialek has published a number of articles that consistently examine the role of resilience in the natural disaster framework. His most recent works examine the importance of communication systems in helping citizens prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters.

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