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Caught in the Path of Katrina

Caught in the Path of Katrina
A Survey of the Hurricane's Human Effects

Drawing on the accounts of more than twenty-five hundred Katrina survivors, two researchers provide a rare longitudinal look at the hurricane’s financial, social, psychological, and physical impacts.

Series: The Katrina Bookshelf, , Kai Erikson, Series Editor

December 2019
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136 pages | 6 x 9 | 16 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus., 15 b&w charts/graphs, 1 b&w table |

In 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina cut a deadly path along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, researchers J. Steven Picou and Keith Nicholls conducted a survey of the survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi, receiving more than twenty-five hundred responses, and followed up two years later with their than five hundred of the initial respondents. Showcasing these landmark findings, Caught in the Path of Katrina: A Survey of the Hurricane's Human Effects yields a more complete understanding of the traumas endured as a result of the Storm of the Century.

The authors report on evacuation behaviors, separations from family, damage to homes, and physical and psychological conditions among residents of seven of the parishes and counties that bore the brunt of Katrina. The findings underscore the frequently disproportionate suffering of African Americans and the agonizingly slow pace of recovery. Highlighting the lessons learned, the book offers suggestions for improved governmental emergency management techniques to increase preparedness, better mitigate storm damage, and reduce the level of trauma in future disasters. Multiple major hurricanes have unleashed their destruction in the years since Katrina, making this a crucial study whose importance only continues to grow.

  • Foreword by Lee Clarke
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. Experiencing Katrina
  • Chapter 3. The Long Road Home
  • Chapter 4. Emerging Obstacles to Rebuilding
  • Chapter 5. Physical Health Effects
  • Chapter 6. Mental Health Effects
  • Chapter 7. Summing Up and Lessons Learned
  • Appendix 1. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
  • Appendix 2. Survey Methodology
  • Notes
  • Index

J. Steven Picou
Mobile, Alabama

Picou is the founding director of the USA Coastal Resource & Resiliency Center and an award-winning professor of sociology at the University of South Alabama. He has published more than one hundred and fifty peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and research monographs and is the coeditor of The Sociology of Katrina: Perspectives on a Modern Catastrophe.

Keith Nicholls
Mobile, Alabama

Nicholls is the senior associate director of the USA Coastal Resource & Resiliency Center and an associate professor of political science at the University of South Alabama. In addition to undertaking numerous other leadership roles, including conducting wide-ranging research on the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon oil spills, he has recently administered grant-funded activities to increase health-care capacity in disaster-prone areas along the Gulf of Mexico coast.


Caught in the Path of Katrina reminds its readers of the broad and long-term effects of the storm, which include being displaced for years, living in FEMA trailers, facing delays in insurance compensation, and suffering uncertainty with regard to state recovery programs...Even more than a decade after the storm, this book provides a high-level yet easy-to-read overview of the human experience with the results of climate change, an experience that we are destined to see again...Highly recommended.”

“Katrina, the storm, happened about fifteen years ago. Katrina, the demon, continues to haunt its victims. J. Steven Picou and Keith Nicholls tell us what happened to people and what we can expect. They tell us how people’s notions of the future have changed for the worse. Ultimately, then, Caught in the Path of Katrina tells multiple stories about trust and hope. The news is not good.”
Lee Clarke, from the Foreword

“Sometimes numbers speak more clearly than words. J. Steven Picou, with years of experience developing and implementing surveys in communities struck by disaster, and Keith Nicholls, with years of experience in political polling and directing telephone surveys, provide compelling quantitative analysis of the adverse social impacts of Hurricane Katrina. The result is an essential book for anyone seeking a more complete understanding of this disaster.”
Duane Gill, Oklahoma State University


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
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