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Maria Watson - University of Florida. Gainesville, FL, US

Maria Watson

Assistant Professor | University of Florida

Gainesville, FL, UNITED STATES

Maria Watson is an urban planner with expertise in disaster recovery.


Maria Watson's research focuses on the factors impacting community recovery after disaster events, and particularly on the interdependencies between infrastructure, housing and businesses. Maria is interested in the effectiveness of disaster recovery programs and how business and housing recovery are linked. Maria has been a part of multiple interdisciplinary disaster recovery research efforts in Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina after Hurricanes Ike, Harvey, Matthew, Florence, Laura and Delta. Maria has received grants from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency for her research.

Areas of Expertise (3)

Disaster Assistance

Disaster Recovery

Small Business Recovery

Media Appearances (1)

Coronavirus: Why is it so hard to aid small businesses hurt by a disaster?

The Conversation  online


The U.S. government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic. But early reports suggest larger companies are gobbling up much of the aid, while many of the neediest ones – particularly those with only a few dozen employees – aren’t benefiting.

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Articles (3)

Assessing changes in food pantry access after extreme events

Agriculture and Human Values

John P. Casellas Connors, et. al


Food pantries play a growing role in supporting households facing or at risk of food insecurity in the United States. They also support emergency response and recovery following disasters and extreme weather events. Although food pantries are often placed in close proximity to communities with the highest rates of poverty and risk of food insecurity, access to these facilities can be disrupted during and after extreme events.

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Business recovery from disasters: Lessons from natural hazards and the COVID-19 pandemic

International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction

Stephanie E.Chang, et. al


This paper compares economic recovery in the COVID-19 pandemic with other types of disasters, at the scale of businesses. As countries around the world struggle to emerge from the pandemic, studies of business impact and recovery have proliferated; however, pandemic research is often undertaken without the benefit of insights from long-standing research on past large-scale disruptive events, such as floods, storms and earthquakes.

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Disaster assistance winners and losers

Journal of the American Planning Association

Maria Watson


Disaster assistance in the United States has faced criticism for widening the unequal impacts of disasters, but little is known about whether and how this phenomenon applies to businesses. Small businesses make up most businesses in the United States, but they are particularly vulnerable to hazards given their relative lack of capital. Because recovery assistance to businesses is primarily loan based, this lack of capital can create conflicts in how aid is perceived and allocated.

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