Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2021.


Copyright Murray 2021


In March 2019, Nebraska was hit with major floods that caused extensive damage throughout the state. Nebraskans spent the following months recovering from many aspects of the natural disaster. One aspect of emergency response and the act of recovery that is commonly overlooked is the mental health of individuals following the traumatic events. The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the level of incorporation of mental health care and services in recovery plans following natural disasters. The qualitative analysis of recovery plans focused on Nebraska and the county-level response to the 2019 Midwestern floods. The objectives were to identify areas for improvement for emergency services regarding mental health and to provide recommendations to bolster overall community mental wellness. In order to conduct this study, an extensive literature review was conducted to find recovery plans and relevant information. Next, two counties were selected based on a number of parameters that reduced the amount of variability between the counties. The two counties selected for the analysis were Nemaha County and Saunders County based on damage from the floods and population. Then, professionals in the field of emergency response were identified and contacted to gather information on mental health service operations. Finally, the two recovery responses were compared. Nemaha County did not have a recovery plan while Saunders County addressed mental health in their recovery plans. Both utilized the statewide Nebraska Strong Recovery Project which provided resources to community members based on mental health needs. This study determined that each county needs an in-depth mental health section in their recovery plans which includes strategies for engagement and readily accessible resources for community members.