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Title: Lessons from the 2018 Merrimack Valley Gas Fires: Comparing Recovery Processes and Disaster Resilience across Socioeconomic and Political Divides
Authors: Garth, Viviane
Advisors: Armstrong, Elizabeth
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Certificate Program: Global Health and Health Policy Program
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: On September 13, 2018, an over-pressurization event in a gas distribution system in northern Massachusetts led to a series of fires and explosions in the communities of Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover. Damaging the entire natural gas distribution system and the appliances in over 6,000 homes and businesses, the recovery effort has taken months, cost over $1 billion, and led to the displacement of thousands of residents and the shutdown of over one hundred businesses. While there is currently a lack of scholarly research on the Merrimack Valley gas crisis, it provides a unique opportunity to analyze how a single event can lead to different responses in communities with varying demographic characteristics, levels of socioeconomic development, and types of political institutions. Based on in-depth interviews with residents, town officials, business owners, this research identifies challenges faced by different subsets of the community and analyzes patterns of disparity. It finds that the variation in how individuals within the three communities responded to and recuperated from the event is best understood as a consequence of existing socioeconomic, demographic, and political forces. Findings from this research are translated into policy recommendations targeted at local officials in small municipalities where pipeline-related and environmental disasters will continue to occur.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Global Health and Health Policy Program, 2017-2023
Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2023

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