Date of Award

11-2015

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Emergency and Disaster Management

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Len Clark

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to examine the theory that sinkhole events are a common problem, are increasing in frequency within the United States and resulting in costly damages, disrupted communities, and lost lives. Communities are ill prepared to deal with them or their aftermath. Remediation and mitigation costs range in the thousands, usually paid out-of-pocket as insurance coverage is not always available and, in some cases, only covers catastrophic losses. A mixed methods approach with a pragmatic worldview was used to evaluate data with the overarching goal to show that communities must be knowledgeable about sinkhole hazards in order to make informed decisions to better protect residents from their potentially devastating results. Sinkholes are natural phenomenons that under normal circumstances take many, even hundreds of years to development; human activities often accelerate that timeframe to just hours or days. As humans trigger up to three-quarters of all sinkholes, it is largely within our grasp to control factors that trigger the development of most sinkholes. Building long-term sustainable communities able to withstand sinkhole occurrences will require action by governmental authorities and others to develop policies and procedures that minimize the incidence and impact of sinkholes.

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