Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy


Carlton Lewis


Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Recovery, Hurricane, Public Perception, Emergency Management, Emergency Leadership


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Hurricanes remain among the most frequent and costliest natural disasters to impact the United States both in terms of loss of property and life (Rudden, 2022; NOAA, 2021a; NOAA, 2022a, 2022b, 2022c). Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria brought renewed attention to the subject of disaster recovery as they collectively cost the nation over $373 billion dollars in damage and over 3,200 lives lost in the 2017 hurricane season (NOAA, 2022a, 2022b; Reguero et al., 2018; USNHC, 2018). Property and lives are at most risk during the first 72 hours following a major hurricane (Col, 2007; Kohn et al., 2012; Dourandish, Zumel, & Manno, 2007; Harris et al., 2018). While previous research focuses on communities’ long-term recovery, limited data has been collected involving the roles of government in immediate recovery efforts. Major hurricanes become a focal point in the lives of those affected, and through these events they shape public expectations, assessments, and attitudes toward government leadership (Darr, Cate, and Moak, 2019). The qualitative study solicited the perceptions and opinions of the survivors of Hurricane Michael in Bay County, Florida to expose previously unknown phenomena related to the storm’s effects on the community and its work towards recovery. Recommendations to shorten immediate recovery time include continuous pre-storm collaborative planning, pre-storm public education campaign, improvements in communication, increase in personnel, and linear research into immediate recovery.