Vulnerability, Perceptions of Stress, and Coping with Natural Disasters: The Case of Hurricane Iris in Belize
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As climate change affects global weather patterns, coastal communities experience more high-intensity storms. Social and economic conditions have created more vulnerability to these disasters in some households, exacerbating the damage. The village of Placencia in Belize was particularly affected by one such event, Hurricane Iris, in 2001. This study uses data from households in Placencia to examine the relationship between vulnerability to coastal storms, feelings of stress, and coping strategies. My objectives are (1) to identify those households that are vulnerable, (2) to determine stress scores for each household, and (3) to examine the influence of stress on the coping strategies (used in response to Hurricane Iris) of vulnerable households. This study concluded that households with low levels of neighborhood cohesion did not use social interaction to cope with disaster. Additionally, highly-stressed households did not use monetary means of coping with the aftermath of the storm.