This special issue of Southern Rural Sociology brings together a diverse array of theoretical and empirical explorations on the rural community context of disaster in the Southern United States. As the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 made abundantly clear, natural and other disasters present a host of unique problems for rural areas. In many cases, rural communities are often left on their own to meet the emergency needs of local residents. While both urban and rural communities found themselves grappling with inexplicable turmoil in the midst and wake of recent hurricane disasters, rural communities were often at the periphery of the focus of media attention and large-scale emergency response. Similarly, recent disasters brought to focus the stark reality that local community residents are often the front lines of disaster response. In this setting, rural communities find themselves shouldering responsibility for meeting the immediate emergency needs of local residents. Under such conditions, threats to rural social solidarity, community, local cohesion, and well-being are significant. The articles in this special issue attempt to capture the dynamic nature of community and regional interaction and highlight the unique experiences and needs of rural communities in the context of disasters.

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