Communicating during the eye of the storm: A study on agricultural communicators’ crisis response to Hurricane Harvey
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Natural disasters have and will continuously pose a threat to those in agriculture. August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall and left devastating damages along with catastrophic flooding, wiping out livelihoods of farmers and ranchers in South Texas. The agriculture industry saw a loss of over $200 million dollars with livestock, cotton, rice, and soybeans being the major areas to take a hit. In efforts to add research to the crisis communication field, this study looked at the communication between agricultural communicators and farmers and ranchers through the lens of the Restorative Rhetoric Theory as well as Coombs Three-Staged Approach. Through qualitative research, seven agricultural communicators holding different roles in the agriculture industry were interviewed to find the best way to communicate before, during, and after natural disasters and more specifically hurricanes. This study found that those in South Texas experience hurricanes on a frequent basis altering their view on how to communicate in natural disaster crises.