Heads above Water

Gender, Class, and Family in the Grand Forks Flood

By Alice Fothergill

Subjects: Women's Studies, Sociology Of Women, Family Studies
Paperback : 9780791461587, 282 pages, June 2004
Hardcover : 9780791461570, 282 pages, June 2004

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Table of contents


1. Introduction: Red River Rising

2. Disaster Strikes

3. Women's Roles

4. Financial Fallout

5. The Stigma of Charity

6. Threats to Mind and Body

7. Family and Religion: Havens in a Flooded World?

8. Domestic Violence

9. The Re-Creation of Domestic Culture

10. Everything in Her Path

Appendix: Notes on Methodology




An in-depth exploration of women's lives after a natural disaster.


Heads above Water tells the stories of women and their families who survived the Grand Forks, North Dakota, flood of 1997, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. This book describes the challenges women faced and explores the importance of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability in their disaster recovery. The women found themselves face-to-face with social and familial upheaval, emotional and physical trauma, precarious economic and social status, and feelings of loss and violation. By exploring the experiences of these women, author Alice Fothergill contributes to broader sociological discussions about women's changing roles, the stigma of needing and receiving assistance, family relationships under stress, domestic violence, downward mobility, and the importance of "home" to one's identity and sense of self. Heads above Water offers poignant insight into women's everyday lives in an extraordinary time.

Alice Fothergill is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont.