In search of altruistic community: patterns of social support mobilization following Hurricane Hugo

Am J Community Psychol. 1995 Aug;23(4):447-77. doi: 10.1007/BF02506964.


Twelve months after Hurricane Hugo, 1,000 disaster victims and nonvictims were asked about social support they exchanged following the hurricane. Victims of disaster received and provided very high levels of tangible, informational, and emotional support. Disaster exposure (loss and harm) was a strong predictor of help received and a modest predictor of help provided. However, postdisaster help was not distributed equally and disaster exposure was more strongly related to social support in some groups than in others. Race, education, and age most consistently moderated the impact of disaster exposure on receipt of postdisaster support. Blacks and less educated victims received less help than similarly affected victims who were white or more educated. Relative disadvantage of being old in receiving support was not the case for those elderly disaster victims who experienced threats to their lives or health. Some subgroups of victims were relied upon disproportionately for providing assistance. Implications for social support research are addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Altruism*
  • Black or African American / psychology
  • Disasters*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Relief Work
  • Social Support*
  • Southeastern United States