Nasty Social Behavior Common after a Disaster

Release Date: September 1, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "Nasty social behavior" is very common following the first 48 hours of a disaster, according to University at Buffalo professor Charles Ebert, Ph.D., who teaches the course, "Disasters: analysis of natural and human-induced hazards."

"The social impact of a major disaster on a city the size of New Orleans is quite large," says Ebert, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus in the UB Department Geography. "People there are still in shock, but their patience is running out."

"Forty-eight hours after a disaster is usually when social unrest begins, with rioting, looting, stealing and other unsocial behavior," Ebert explains.

"In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, survivors are in shock and don't have time to think. This is when you see people helping others and rising to the occasion, but after the first 48 hours it is common for people to become very desperate and that usually results in some very nasty social behavior."

Charles Ebert, Ph.D.
Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus
Department of Geography
University at Buffalo
716-645-2722, ext. 30 (office)

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