JSU Collecting Stories of Resilience from 2018 Tornado


It’s been a full year since an EF-3 tornado hit JSU’s campus, destroying buildings, ripping trees up by the roots and tossing debris for miles. 

That moment of fear and uncertainty continues to echo through the memories of those who experienced the tornado firsthand – huddled in bathtubs or trapped in a bedroom apartment with only a bare mattress for protection – as well as those who participated in the months of recovery.

JSU’s Center for Disaster and Community Resilience (CDCR) is collecting stories from the March 19, 2018 tornado from individuals willing to share their experiences leading up to tornado, the impact they experienced, and how they recovered or continue to recover. Interviews take place in Houston Cole Library, are conducted in private, and last approximately 90 minutes.

Research associates for the CDCR work in emergency management and sociology. Community resilience aims at preparing for and responding to disaster events. By studying events like the March tornado, researchers hope to better understand how these traumatic events affect communities and individuals, explained Dr. Erin Rider, JSU associate professor of sociology.

“Disasters impact vulnerable communities, undermining their ability to fully prepare for and mitigate risk,” said Rider. “Following the disaster event, individuals and organizations encounter challenging processes of recovery as they respond to the effects of the disaster. The recent EF-3 tornado that struck Jacksonville on March 19, 2018 greatly impacted community members and students with regard to the trauma of experiencing it, the injuries and damage to homes, and the varying degrees of displacement.”

The CDCR has been involved in community resilience projects that examine the critical factors that increase mitigation tools in local counties. Their research and expertise can lend a voice to disaster survivors. By collecting live interviews, the CDCR wants to empower participants to tell their stories and experiences in their own words.  

“We are hoping to provide the space for individuals to tell their stories of resilience, and make them available to the public to facilitate understanding and learning,” Rider said. “These stories will be archived using the Houston Cole Library’s digital resources to build a collection of this tornado event.”

Those interested in participating should contact the CDCR at 256-782-8477 or by email at cdcr@jsu.edu.