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Intersections of small business mobility, adaptive capacity, and resilience during crises



Eleanor Pierel, Kirstin Dow, Jennifer Helgeson


Over 5 years, multiple hurricanes and a pandemic impacted small businesses in Charleston, South Carolina. In order to better understand the impacts of disasters on public-facing small businesses, we conducted a case study of customer, labor, location, and supply chain mobility. Although the disaster contexts of multiple hurricanes and the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic vary considerably, comparing the experiences of small business operators furthers our understanding of local disruptions and the potential for adaptive capacity. Drawing on 2 years of survey data, we focus on the importance of mobility to public-facing (e.g. service and recreation) small business recovery and adaptation. We then consider the relationship between multiple forms of mobility and resilience to two different disaster types. We conclude by identifying additional areas of small business adaptation and resilience inquiry informed by both hurricane and pandemic experiences. In contrast to previous global or regional mobility studies, this case study explores hyper-local small business mobility disruptions.
International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters


Small business, longitudinal, COVID-19, hurricanes, mobility


Pierel, E. , Dow, K. and Helgeson, J. (2023), Intersections of small business mobility, adaptive capacity, and resilience during crises, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, [online],, (Accessed May 18, 2024)


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Created September 18, 2023, Updated September 21, 2023