Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Disaster Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Dean Kyne

Second Advisor

Dr. Arlett Lomeli

Third Advisor

Dr. William Donner


During a disaster, people have the choice of whether to evacuate or shelter in place. The problem with that is that the impact of disasters is never the same; one disaster can cause one to shelter in place, and within the same day, evacuation might be required. For those who are able-bodied, and have financial means, this is not a problem. It is a problem, however, for those who are disabled, struggling with chronic illnesses, or caring for those who have a disability or chronic illness.

This thesis studies these populations, and proposes a potential solution for disaster evacuation: a special needs disaster shelter for the Rio Grande Valley. Though the study starts in, and is focused around, Edinburg, Texas, the results from the survey deployed indicate there are more people in more cities around the Rio Grande Valley region who show interest in the idea of a special needs disaster shelter. Though the dataset is small, it also reflects a truth: those who need accommodations in a disaster may be few and far in between in a population, but they are no less deserving of accommodation, or protection.


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