Cultural Competence and Disaster Management

Publication Date

April 2020

Document Type

Contribution to a Book

Publication Title

Cultural Competency for Emergency and Crisis Management: Concepts, Theories and Case Studies


Claire Connolly Knox, Brittany “Brie” Haupt




Undocumented immigrants face unique challenges before, during, and after a disaster. While citizens and green card holders may need assistance with post-disaster recovery paperwork, individuals awaiting a decision on permanent residence status may be afraid that accepting any government assistance may make them a “public charge” and ruin their chances for permanent resident status or citizenship. This chapter reviews the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants. The goal of this case study is to identify the need for cultural competency in emergency and crisis management staff members and examine the challenges when delivering disaster services to a heterogeneous population that includes undocumented residents, non-English speaking residents, and diversity in age, race, and the level of assistance needed because of access and functional needs.