This paper examines the relationship between community preparedness and response to natural disaster and their level and pattern of community development. This is done by investigating preparation and response to the 1997 Red River Flood by three rural communities in Manitoba, Canada. The communities were selected because of their different ethnic mix and associated level and pattern of community development. The hypothesis was supported that the level and pattern of community development affect community capacity to respond to flooding. Communities characterised by higher levels of physical, human and social capital were better prepared and more effective responders to the flood. However, where the pattern of community development was characterised by high levels of social capital, decision-making processes were complicated.
This paper examines some of the social processes associated with disaster conditions. Utilising an asset-based perspective of community capacity, it focuses on four types of normative systems to interpret the ability of communities to manage disasters through market-, bureaucratic-, associative-, and communal-based norms. Drawing on experience of a wildfire in the Crowsnest Pass region of southwest Alberta, Canada, in 2003, the tensions and compatibilities among these normative systems are evaluated through interviews with 30 community leaders. The results confirm the contributions of all types of social capital to resiliency, the necessity for rapid use of place-based knowledge, and the importance of communication among all types and levels of agents. In addition, they point to the value of identifying and managing potential conflicts among the normative systems as a means to maximising their contributions. The integration of local networks and groups into the more general disaster response minimised the impacts on health and property.