Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Planning, Design, and the Built Environment

Committee Chair/Advisor

Stephen Buckman

Committee Member

William Bridges

Committee Member

Cecilio Ortiz-Garcia

Committee Member

B.D. Wortham-Galvin


Experiencing disasters and losing family and friends is tough. Imagine being forced to live in a temporary shelter and not knowing when you can return to your place. This uncertainty might happen to Puerto Ricans if the fast community rebounding is not reflected in the disaster recovery. Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico devastated the island and created acute vulnerabilities that must be addressed by making communities more robust and resilient to future shocks.

This research aimed to understand the underlying reasons why some communities in Puerto Rico are more resilient and are better able to recover from a disaster while other communities struggle to normalize their lives.

This sequential mixed-method research included three steps. The first step used a cross-sectional survey design to understand the relationship between social cohesion and the recovery rate in the four case studies. Data gathering was via questionnaire, and the analysis method was multi-variable linear regression. The results showed a positive relationship between social cohesion and the recovery rate at lower rates of recovery rate. However, social cohesion impacts are limited, and it does not necessarily help the recovery progress at later phases. The second and third steps used in-person interviews and qualitative inductive coding analysis to identify the key factors contributing to a faster recovery rate and propose strategies and a conceptual framework for improving the recovery rate in the communities in Puerto Rico. The findings showed that in addition to social cohesion, accessibility to external resources plays an important role in disaster recovery.

Author ORCID Identifier


Available for download on Tuesday, December 31, 2024