Cutter, S. L., C. T. Emrich, J. T. Mitchell, B. J. Boruff, M. Gall, M. C.

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Cutter, S. L., C. T. Emrich, J. T. Mitchell, B. J. Boruff, M. Gall, M. C.
The
by Susan L. Cutter, Christopher I Emnch, Jerry T. Mitchell Bryan J. Boruff,
Melanie Gall, Mathew C. Schmidtiein, Christopher G. Burton, and Ginni Melton
Road Home
Race, Class, and Recovery from Hurricane Katrina
The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season
was the most active season on record and produced three
storms that reached Category Five intensity: Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.
Hurricane Katrina was not the strongest of
the three storms in terms of wind speeds or
central pressures, but converging factors
—primarily its strength and landfall location along the Gulf Coast—made it the
most devastating and costly hurricane in
U.S. history. It is estimated that Katrina
impacted 90,000 square miles (an area
nearly the size of the United Kingdom).
displaced more than one million people, killed more than 1,300 people, and
exceeded $80 billion in costs.-
of December 2005, FEMA had removed
nearly 53 million cubic yards of debris
and had provided more than $5 billion in
financial and housing assistance.^ Still,
about 6,600 people remain unaccounted
for. and more than 400.000 people are
scattered among hotels and shelters all
across the country.''
Hurricane Katrina exposed the United
States—and in particular the coastal populations of Louisiana and Mississippi—to
an unprecedented combination of natural
forces and human failures. In the early
morning on 29 August 2005, Katrina
made landfall as a Category Three storm
with sustained winds of 125 mph and
storm surges of up to 30 feet.^ Televised
images of New Orleans showed a city in
complete structural and institutional meltdown. The evacuees in New Orleans suffered from no power, no drinking water,
dwindling food supplies, understaffed law
enforcement, and delayed search and rescue activities. However, these issues were
widespread and not confined to New
Orleans. Indeed, they were characteristic
for most of the area affected by Hurricane
Katrina. a region stretching from southern
Louisiana to the Alabama-Florida border.
With the immediate needs of clothing, housing, and food now addressed,
local, state, and federal agencies face
the challenging tasks of recovery and
rebuilding. According to the model of
recovery proposed by geographer Robert
W. Kates and colleagues more than 25
years ago. the time period for each phase
is ten times greater than the one before it.
In other words, the recovery period for
Katrina will last 60 weeks—based on an
emergency phase of 6 weeks—and reconstruction could require a stunning 600
weeks: that is, 11.5 years.^ The reconstruction process includes the restoration
of social routines and Ihe commencement
of economic activities. During this process many of the evacuees will find new
homes and new jobs and will enroll their
children in schools somewhere other than
their home communities.^ Many residents
will not return to the affected area even
though they have the resources to do
so, while others may wish to return bul
lack the Hnancial or emotional ability.
Either way, demographic change seems
inevitable in the Gulf Coast region. The
question of who will retum and who will
More than 100 day.s later. Congress
approved $62 billion in hurricane relief
aid."* The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to operate 132 Disaster Recovery Centers in
the Gulf Coast area and ha.s more than
14.000 federal personnel in the field. As
10
ENVIRONMENT
The Challenge of Recovery
permanently relocate elsewhere poses a
significant challenge for the recovery of
the region.
Hurricane Katrina brought national
awareness to the deficiencies in preparedness and response to disasters, especially in urban areas. It also highlighted
some of the scientific shortcomings in
understanding recovery and reconstruction after disasters in large cities. Past
research on recovery from disasters
found that relocation, especially among
the elderly, results in increased physical
and mental health maladies.'' Depression and other psychological problems
are also prevalent among residents living in a highly disrupted or traumatized
community because the individual and
community coping mechanisms are no
longer available."^ However, long-term
large demographic shifts caused by natural disasters are unprecedented in the
United States, where only a few studies
have actually investigated post-disaster
demographics." Lasting demographic
changes are documented mostly in the
context of biological hazards such as the
AIDS epidemic or complex emergencies
such as wars.'The limited research on demographic
change due to disasters is in sharp contrast to the much larger knowledge base
on a population's vulnerability prior to
a natural hazard.'' Socially marginalized
people (that is. the poor, the uneducated,
the young, and the old) are often more
vulnerable to and slower to recover from
disasters. When compounded by racial,
ethnic, or gender disparities, the differential resiliency of social groups—as well as
VOLUME 48 NUMBER 2
the communities they inhabit—becomes
more obvious. This helps explain the
precursor conditions as to why some
communities bounce back after disasters.
while others do not. It was not Hurricane
Katrina's intensity but its impact on a
major U.S. urban area and the invisible
inner-city poor that turned this humcane
into the largest disaster in U.S. history.'"*
for example, are greatly exposed to coastal
flooding and hurricane activity and arc
thus more physically vulnerable to those
threats than places inland. "Resistance"
refers to the capabilities of people to
protect themselves and their communities from environmental threats.''' These
capabilities may be economic or social
systems that provide opportunities for
How do people and places come to be
overly exposed, non-resistant, and less
resilient? These facets of vulnerability
are fashioned by access to resources and
social advantage. Populations are not vulnerable simply because ihey are exposed,
but rather their plight is "a result of
marginality that makes their life a 'permanent emergency.""'^ This marginality
was laid bare along the Gulf Coast. For
example, one of the main reasons for the
lower compliance with evacuation orders
among the New Orleans poor was that
Katrina struck on 29 August—two days
before paychecks and welfare or disability
checks would arrive—and they had no
money to use for transportation.
The mainstream press has portrayed vulnerability, especially social vulnerability,
as a newly discovered condition revealed
only through the immediate response failures of local, state, and federal officials
to Hurricane Katrina. However, social
vulnerability is a we! I-developed scientific concept that transcends the expedient descriptors such as race, ethnicity, or
poverty. Although it is still not well understood how each social factor works to
produce vulnerability or, necessarily, how
factors come to work together as amplifiers or attenuators, several concepts have
found acceptance within the hazards litDespite ihe distance from shore, storm surges completely inundated this lower income
erature.
Generally these include access to
residential area in BUoxi. Mississippi. Such areas are often more vulnerable to disasters.
resources and political power: social capiVulnerability and Resilience: greater security. A hazard-resistant com- tal and social networks; beliefs, culture,
The Broader Framework
munity in that same bayou may be one and customs; type, construction materials,
with elevated homes and a legally man- and age of buildings; frail and physically
If vulnerability to hazards is the poten- dated set-back distance from the water's limited individuals; and type and density
tial for loss, what increases or decreases edge (a "zoned setback"). Both of these of infrastructure and lifelines.'''
that potential in different populations and mitigation measures help reduce the hazDespite the simplistic portrayal in the
places? What enables some people to ard impacts. Finally, "resilience" acknowl- mass media (for example, images of poor
avoid, resist, or recover from harm while edges the ability (or inability) to cope and African Americans on rooftops contrasted
others are less successful.' The concepts subsequently recover from disaster. The with interviews with wealthier whites
of exposure, resistance, and resilience are same bayou community, if not diversi- who had escaped the worst of the flooda starting point for our collective under- fied economically, may find its recovery ing), actual maps showing the location of
options decimated along with the ecosys- flooding and the percentage of minority
standing of vulnerability.'''
"Exposure" is the result of physical tems on which it relied heavily for fish. populations in the city of New Orleans
location and the character of the environ- Clearly, where and when exposure is high. provided a glimpse into understanding
ment in a particular place."" Fishing com- and resistance and resilience are low, the social vulnerability. Prior to Katrina. who
munities in low-lying Louisiana bayous, potential for loss increases.
might be affected in those physically vul-
MARCH 2006
ENVIRONMENT
11
nerable places was largely unreported,
and indeed the various social and/or
geographical nuances of each particular
place—nuances that could alter outcomes
significantly^were likewise overlooked
by the mass media.
along the Gulf Coast, property losses
from natural disasters have been escalating since the 1960s. During this time
frame at least eleven tropical systems
affected the area (see Figure 1 below)
and caused the majority of losses from all
natural hazards (see Table 1 on page 13).
In Louisiana and Mississippi, hurricanes
account for about 50 percent of the states'
losses from natural hazards, followed
by flooding (30 percent) and tornadoes
(5 percent) (see Figure 2 on page 14).""
Hurricane Katrina's coastal impact area
(see Figure 3 on page 16) is accustomed
Vulnerable Places
and the Pattern of Losses
Hurricanes are particularly devastating
when making landfall in highly populated
areas. With an increase in population
to damages from natural hazards, where
more than $3.3 billion in property losses
have been recorded in the period from
I96U through 2003.-'
Some of the most destructive storms in
the region were Hurricane Betsy (1965,
$1.4 billion). Hurricane Camille (1969,
$1.4 billion). Hurricane Andrew (1992,
$26.5 billion). Hurricane Opal (1995, $3
billion) and Hurricane Georges (1998,
$2.3 billion)—which all rank among the
costliest U.S. hurricanes.-- Hurricane
Camille ranks eleventh among the most
deadly continental U.S. hurricanes with
Figure 1. Historic natural disaster losses in selected Gulf Coast counties
affected by Hurricane Katrina
1,000
Louisiana Flood and Opal
900
800
700
Georges
600
500
400
Betsy
Andrew
300
200
Frederic
Camille
Hilda
100
Elena
Alicia
Bertha
Carmen
• •!•
0
s
in
p
in
a>
in
o
CO
a>
CO
en
o
0)
0)
LO
O)
O)
o
o
o
eg
Year
NOTE: Losses are in US$ millions adjusted to 2004.
SOURCE: S. L. Cutter et al., 2005.
12
ENVIRONMENT
VOLUME 48 NUMBER 2
256 ca.sualties.-^ Hurricane Katrina has
surpassed Hurricane Camille in fatalities
and will eclipse Hurricane Andrew as the
eostliest hurricane in U.S. history.
In addition to wind damage at landfall, hurricanes are also associated with
destruetion from heavy rains, storm
surge, flooding, and tornadoes. Just four
years prior to Hurricane Camiile, Hurricane Betsy killed 75 people, hut its lasting impression is mainly due to its flood
damage to New Orleans.-•' Betsy's storm
surge raised the water level of Lake Pontchartrain and overwhelmed flood protec-
tion levees, subsequently inundating parts
of the city. The storm revealed the eity's
precarious situation and its vulnerability
to hurricanes—a revelation that was the
ultimate impetus for the Flood Control
Act of 1965, which funneled money to
New Orleans to raise levee heights and
upgrade and expand its pumping and
canal infrastructure.-^
However, the flood protection adjustments could not withstand the effeets
from a stalled frontal system in May
1995. As seen in Figure I, property losses
peaked in 1995 when the greater New
Orleans area suffered from the worst
flooding since Hurricane Betsy. Within
12 hours, 20 inches of rain fell in some
areas, flooding thousands of homes, cars,
and businesses.
The hottom line here is the simple
fact that New Orleans is below sea level
and sits in a bowl. It is just as vulnerable
to the more common, heavy rainfallinduced flooding as it is to a less-frequent
hurricane. Thus, despite the levee system designed to protect it. New Orleans
continues to be vulnerable to flooding
regardless of the cause.
Table 1. Top ten counties in terms of iosses from tropical storms and hurricanes, 1960-2003
Alabama (in $ millions)
Louisiana (in $ millions)
Mississippi (in $ millions)
Baldwin
107.3
St. Mary
177.7
Hancock
272.2
Mobile
107.3
St. Martin
176.7
Harrison
272.2
Cboctaw
91.9
Lafayette
176.6
Jackson
272.2
Conecuh
67.1
Vermilion
167.9
Pearl River
271.2
Monroe
67.1
Acadia
166.8
Greene
104.3
Clarke
67.1
Lafourche
162.9
Perry
104.3
Escambia
67.1
Terrebonne
162.9
Wayne
104.3
Wasbington
67.1
St. Tammany
162.6
Stone
104.3
Butler
63.1
Tangipaboa
162.6
Amite
89.3
Covington
63.1
Jefferson
161.3
Pike
89.3
Total losses
from burricanes
3,184.0
6,595.6
5,820.3
Total losses
from natural hazards
7,985.3
13,343.7
11,818.8
NOTE: Losses are in US$ millions adjusted to 2004. Counties in italics belong to the storm surge and flooded areas during
Hurricane Katrina.
SOURCE: University at Soutb Carolina Hurricane Researcb Lab, Spatial Hazard Events and Losses Dataset for tbe United
States (SHELDUS), http://sheldus.org.
MARCH 2OO6
ENVIRONMENT
13
Vulnerable People
example, in 1960 Orleans Parish ranked
in the top 3 percent of the most socially
vulnerable counties nationally, the same
Hurricane Katrina exposed the
percentilc
ranking it had in 2000."^
vulnerability of coastal communities in
The differential vulnerability of counvivid detail, and this was most pronounced
in New Orleans.-''' Yet the hi.storical ante- ties is best seen when comparing those
cedents were there. The impoverishment parishes and counties that were most
of the South during the 1960s also extend- affected by Hurricane Katrina's storm
ed to the coastal counties, where race, surge and flooding (See Figure 4 on page
18), With one exception (Orleans Parish).
class, and gender most influenced the
social vulnerability of these communities. all of the affected counties have reduced
Over the next 40 years, improvements in their social vulnerability during the past
the social condition were seen throughout 40 years, yet there are still significant
the nation, and the wide discrepancies in disparities within the region. For examsocial vulnerability at the national level ple, Hancock County, Mississippi, and
narrowed. However, this was not true for Baldwin County. Alabama, are the least
al! places, especially Orleans Paiish.-^ For socially vuhierable, while St. Bernard,
Orleans, and Plaquemine.s Parishes (Louisiana) continue to be among the most
socially vulnerable. This is the case on a
national level as well: 85 percent of all
U.S. counties are less socially vulnerable
than these three parishes.-'' What this suggests is that while New Orleans may have
seen some incremental improvements in
its overall social vulnerability during the
past four decades, it is no better off today
than it was in 1960. In fact, the dominant
indicators of social vulnerability in 1960
in Orleans Parish—race and gender—are
the same ones that are driving the production of social vulnerability today.
It is evident that the capacity to recover
from disaster is partially a function of
Figure 2. Causal agent comparison of disaster losses by state, 1960-2003
Mississippi
Alabama
Tropical storms
and hurricanes
Tropical storms
and hurricanes
49%
41%
Misceltaneous
10% Flood
Miscellaneous
13%
Miscellanous
5%
Winter weatber
5%
Winter weatber
11%
;
Severe
/
storm
Tornado
1%
10%
Tornado
3%
Tropical storms
and hurricanes
49%
Louisiana
SOURCE: S. L. Outter et al., 2005,
14
ENVIRONMENT
VOLUME 48 NUMBER 2
the community's social vulnerability. For
example, in the wake of Katrina, the
Lower Ninth Ward in Orleans Parish had
the largest concentration of "red tagged"
homes—houses that were unsafe to enter
and in imminent danger of col!ap.se. This
same area also experienced a disproportionate amount of the fatalities. In those
areas within New Orleans where poverty
rates are greater than 41 percent, federally backed loans to homeowners average less than 10 percent of all the loans
made as of December 2005.'" Whether
social vulnerability (as measured by the
Social Vulnerability Index) will continue
on the same trajectory during the recovery
and reconstruction of the Gulf Coast i.s
unclear at present. Given the potential for
major demographic changes in communities such as Orleans Parish, where the
Lower Ninth Ward will be uninhabitable
for years and the population has resettled
elsewhere, there may be some reversal of
prior trends—but at what social cost?
The Forgotten Coastline
While most media and national attention has been focused on New Orleans, the
devastation along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines poses equally challenging
recovery issues. Unlike New Orleans, all
five coastal counties in Mississippi and
Alabama were affected by storm surge
inundation, as high as 30 feet in some
locations. While storm surges hit some
areas harder than others, it is the underlying variation in social vulnerability that
will lead to differential abilities to recover
in the long term from this hurricane.
To look more closely at the underlying social vuinerahility within the coastal
counties, it is necessary to downscale the
Social Vulnerability Index to the census
tract level. Social vulnerability assessments were undertaken using census tracts
within the FEMA-designated counties of
Mississippi and Alabama (see Figure 5a
on page 19).^' When the modeled stomi
The force of Hurricane Katrina's storm surge moved shrimp boats ami other craft miles
from where they were moored in Bayou La Batre. Alabama.
MARCH 2006
surge inundation is mapped and comhined with the social vulnerability data.
a much clearer pattern of vulnerability
(and its corollary resiliency) appears (see
Figure 5b on page 19).~- The longerterm prospects for two communities are
worth noting.
The first, Biloxi, Mississippi, was essentially destroyed by the impact of this storm
along its coast. Pictures of the beached
floating barge casinos—previously moored to the southern extents of the large
hotels on the Grand Strand—could be
seen on every newscast covering the
story. The casinos, businesses, parks, and
flora^—along with nearly every multimillion dollar home along U.S. Route
90—was completely destroyed by the
storm surge in this area. In East Biloxi,
low-income residential areas a few blocks
north of Route 90 never made it on the
news because of a distinct lack of "wow"
factor.'' However, these houses were compromised to such an extent that they were
condemned and Ihe residents rendered
homeless. The differences between these
two neighborhoods are seen not only in
the height of the storm surge hut, more
poignantly, in terms of their social vulnerability. The more affluent homeowners
and casinos along the immediate shoreline
have begun reconstruction and renovations and have received insurance settlements. In the largely African American
and Asian neighborhoods on the northern
side of the railroad tracks, where generations of low-income, blue collar, and
service-sector residents lived, the neighborhoods are still clogged with debris.
Many are still living in or near the very
houses that were condemned, because they
have no alternative sheltering options.
The second area where differences in
social vulnerability can be clearly distinguished is in Bayou La Batre, a small
coastal city in southem Mobile County,
Alabama. Perhaps first brought to the
limelight in the 1994 Him Forrest Gump,
Bayou La Batre was hit by more than
30 feet of storm surge from Hurricane
ENVIRONMENT
15
Katrina. Just as in the film, this area is
characterized hy a high dependence on a
single industry: shrimping. The impact of
the storm on the area's natural resource
base and industry infrastructure was tremendous, with more than half of the
town's fleet of shrimp boats affected.
Shrimp boats were picked up and deposited literally miles from where they had
been moored. Houses along the coast
were completely covered by the storm
surge, and, like many in New Orleans,
residents had to be rescued from rooftops
during the actual storm event.
section of the damaging physical hazard
with the inability to adequately rebound
from such hazards that reduces the resiliency of such communities and causes the
most hardship for residents.
The Long Road to Recovery
The road to recovery will be a long one
for the Gulf Coast. Communities will not
recover equally or within the same time
frame, and this variability in the rate and
extent of recovery will leave a lasting mark
While Biloxi and Bayou La Batre expe- on the Gulf Coast landscape. Communirienced a storm surge similar to places ties like Dauphin Island, Diamondhead,
like Diamondhead. Mississippi, and Dau- or New Orleans" Garden District were
phin Island, Alabama, the impact of the less vulnerable socially and will rebuild
inundation will have a much more last- quickly using a combination of federal
ing effect on Biloxi and Bayou La Batre and private (insurance) monies. Additional
because of the social vulnerability within resources (federal, state, and private) and
the latter two communities. It is the inter- long-term investments will be required to
obtain an equitable and socially just recovery for Biloxi, Bayou La Batre, and New
Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. These investments include joh creation for less-.skilled
individuals, affordable housing, aecess
to public transportation, and above all,
recognition that diversity—and the social
institutions that support it—is key to the
successful recovery of the region. But will
this happen? And if so, at what cost?
One unfortunate outcome of Hurricane
Katrina will be the widening gap between
the rich and the poor and the near disappearance of the middle class in some
partieulariy hard-hit areas such as New
Orleans. In many ways, the wealthy residents can afford the risk and, in all likelihood, most will rebuild. The poor, on the
other hand, have little choice. Those who
were relocated out of the region may be
gone permanently. Those who stayed face
the prospect of unaffordable housing and
Figure 3. Coastal counties experiencing flooding or storm surge
inundation during Hurricane Katrina
Flood- and surge-impacted coastal counties
Alabama
Florida
Tsnneasae
Arkansas
\ Mississippi
Louisiana
Alabama
Florida
SOURCE: S. L. Cutter et al., 2005.
16
ENVIRONMENT
VOLUME 48 NUMBER 2
low-paying service jobs to meet the needs
of the wealthy and tourist populations.
This is especially true in New Orleans.
The primary pre-Katrina employers—the
city, universities, and health complexes—
are in financial distress, and increasingly,
there is an emphasis on tourism as the
eeonomic driver of recovery. The overreliance on tourism for their economic
base and the decline in the workingmiddle class residents does not bode well
for the long-term economic and social
sustainability of the metropolitan area.
The looming question is, recovery for
whom and by whom? The answer will
vary considerably between communities
and even within communities. Biioxi is
illustrative of the challenge. Along the
Mississippi coast, there is a consensus
among civic leaders that "[IJegalized gaming is going to be what saves us."-^ The
casinos that helped reverse the econotnic
2006. A quick change to state law (ostensibly to protect the casino structures and
the industry) facilitated a speedy recovery effort as well. Gaming is no longer
restricted to water-borne barges and may
now take place in structures up to 800 feet
from the shore. *'' A larger gaming footprint
is likely as casinos build within the new
setback but place hotel rooiiis, restaurants,
and parking on adjacent land. This process
is unfolding not just along the Gulf shore,
but along the back waterways, squeezing the real estate (a mix of commercial
and residential land uses) in between."
These economically depressed neighborhoods behind the casino lights, home
to many gaming employees, were similarly devastated. Yet their residents find
themselves in an increasingly untenable
situation. To recover requires an income
that may not return until the casinos are
fully operable. But the renewed operation
Hurricane Katrina's storm surge hit the westem portion of Dauphin Island, Alabama, at
more than 30 feet. Federal funds and insurance claims will help many residents rebuild.
decline in the 1990s generated $2.7 billion
in revenues during the past year.''' The
infusion of well-fmaneed private capital
into casino recovery within six weeks of
the storm meant that at least three casinos
were open for business by New Year's Day
MARCH 2006
of the casinos is chipping away at their
community, hoth in terms of new property acquisition and the subsequent loss
of social capital, as residents are forced to
leave. What remains is a newly fortified
haven for those who can afford to recreate
in an area of high risk but not bear any of
the eonsequences.
Rehuilding "bigger and better" may be
less important than rebuilding smarter.
Clearly, more disaster-resistant structures
must be part of the mix to withstand future
storms. Equally important are the local
land uses and zoning that will reduce the
exposure of the built environment. While
there are many ideas on how the recovery
should proceed, we need to be aware of
the permanent displacement of many of
the region's poor. Any recovery and reconstruction of the Hurricane Katrina impact
area should consider mechanisms for the
repatriation of these former residents.
Hurricane Katrina provides an unprecedented natural experiment for monitoring
disaster recovery and reconstruction (see
the box t)n page 20). It will necessitate
considerable record keeping and oversight to ensure fairness in the prwess and
equitable access to recovery resources.
At the same time, there is also a critical
need to distinguish between short-term
and temporary demographic changes such
as relocation, and the more significant
permanent demographic transition that
is bound to affect the eeonomic vitality
and livability of this distinctive American
region. In addition to these demographic
changes, the razing of large sections of
New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf
Coast inevitably leads to concerns about
"Disneyfication," a process whereby new
representations of place are artificial and
ignorant of history and the people who
made the region what it was prior to the
storm. It is an absolute certainty that these
areas will be rebuilt. What is still unknown
at this time is who will be living in these
areas after the reeovery is eomplete. For
example, the large inllux of Hispanic
immigrants drawn by vacated service sector jobs and new reconstruction employment may or may not be temporary. How
this short-term workforce situation affects
prior residents is unknown at this time. If
the previous residents (both voluntary and
displaced evacuees, many of them African
ENVIRONMENT
17
American) as well as the new immigrants
are not considered in long-term recovery
efforts of the Gulf Coast, they will most
likely not be in the picuire at the end of
the long transition back to normalcy. The
decline in the rich diversity that once
characterized the Gulf Coast region will
lead to the loss of the culture, spirit, and
the historic sense of place that made it
so unique.
Susan I.. CuticT is a Camlina Disiitiguishcd Pr(>fL'ssi)r
and (lircctorof lliL- Hu/ards Rfseurch Lah al ihi? Univcrsiiy of South Carolina. She may be amiiiLlcd via e-mail
al [email protected] Chrisiophci T. Einirii'h i.s ihc manager
111'ihe Hazards Research L;ib. and his research liK-Uscsiin
sotial vulnenibility mea^urcmeni and metrics ai mclropoliian .scales of analysis. Jerry T. Mitchell is ihc direcdir
<if ihc Center of EweIIL-MLI: in Geographic Eiducatioii; his
research interests include ihe s(x.ial and cultural dimensions of hazards. Brvan J. Bnrult isa National RcsL-arch
Council post-ill Id lira I IL'IIDW al ihc PuLillc Disaster
Center. His research iniere.sis inicgraic GIS and rcmoicscnsjrig ifchniiUigy in ihf siudy of small island nation
vulncrjhiljiy li> hazards. Mclanic (iall and Matliew C.
Sihmidllein aa' diitioral students in geography al ihe
University of Soiilh Canilinia. TTicir research Jnieresisarc
liicuscd iin JmprovcnK'nls in ilie mfiisuremcni ol hazard
vuinerahility. Chrisiophcr G. Bunon and Ginni Mellon
are pursuing ma.stcr's degrees in geography wilh spcciiili/alion in hazards ill ihc Universiiy of South Carolina. All
LiuUiors were parl i>f \hu Held diiUi ciillcclion leam thui
surveyed llif Mississippi coaslul cimnlics.
Support for Ihi.s resfaruh was provided by ihe Univcrsily of .South Canilina, Ofllce i>l Research and Hcalih
Scifnt-cs under the Coastal Resiliency Inlomiation Systems iniiialive for ihe Soulheast (CRLSIS) Call for Rapid
Response Research im the Social and hnvironniL-nial
Dimensions of Hurricane Kalrina.
NOTES
1. National Weather Service, li^onihly Tropical
Wfiiihcr Summary, http://www.srh.ntKm.go\/tlata/NHC/
TWSAT (accessed 8 December 20().')l.
2. Federal F.mergency Managetnent Agency
(KHMA), By ihf Numbers: Firxl 100 Dtiys—FEMA
Recovi-ry Update for Hiirricune Kairinii. http://www
.fema.gov/media/archivi;s/indt^xl207()^.shtm (accessed
8 [Jeccmber 2(«)5); iind National Wcalher Service, ibid.
.1. K. D. Ktiabh. J. R. Rhi>mc. and D. P. Brown.
Tropiicil CycliiiH' Repcrt. Hurriiimc Kalriiiii. 2.'-.fO
Aufiiixi 200^. National Hurricane Center. htip://www
.nhc.noaj.gov/200^atlan.shimr.' (accessed 21 Dcccmhcr
2(1051.
4. MiiUiin F.mers>eniy Sitpplemenuii AppnipriiUitms
til Me ft tmmcdiiilt Needs Arisiiifi fnim the C<inseifiientes
(if Hurriiane Knirina. fur the t'isciil Year Ending September JO, 2005. Mid for Other Purposes. KWth Cong..
H.R. 3645, Conjirestiimut ReconI 151: Public t^w 10961 (2 Scpiemhcr 2IK)5K Se<imd Emergency Supplemental Appropriiiliims .\ii fo Mei't Immediiite Needs Arising
fri'in the Cimsi'iiiieiues nf HiirriiLUw Kiilriiiii. 2005,
ITOih Craig.. H.R. .1676, C,mf;ressitmal Record I5I\
Public Law \W-b2 (K .September H)()5)\ and FEMA,
note 2 above.
5. KFiMA, note 2 above.
6. K. Johnson,"(1,644 Are Still Missingaficr Hurricane
Katrina; Toil Muy Rise." USA Today. 22 November 2005.
Figure 4. Changes in social vuinerability based on scores on
the Sociai Vuinerability Index (SoVi)
Jackson County, MS
Harrison County, MS
Hancock County, MS
1960 Percentile
Terrebonne Parish, LA
2000 Percentile
St. Tammany Parish, LA
St. Bernard Parish, LA
Plaquemines Parish, LA
Orleans Parish, LA
Lafourche Parish, LA
Jefferson Parish, LA
Mobile County, AL
Baldwin County, AL
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
SoVI score
NOTE: The percentiie of the impacted counties compared to all U.S. counties suggests that the region experiences
greater social vulnerability than most U.S. counties and that there is variability within the Katrina-affected region
as well.
SOURCE: S. L. Cutter et al., 2005.
18
ENVIRONMENT
VOLUME 48 NUMBER 2
7. R. W. Kales and D. Pijawka. "From Rubble m
Miitmtfit'iit: The Paee i)f Reeonstniclidn." in J. E. Haas,
R. W. Kaics, and M. J. Biiwtlen. ed.v, Reioiisirinitoii
/•V<//«H7'i,i,'/J;.vav/<TlCambridge. MA: MIT Press, 1977).
1-2:1.
8. K. J. Tiemey. M. K. Lindell. atid R. W. Perry.
Ftuini; the Unexpected: Disaster Preparedness and
Response in the Uniled Stales (Washinglon. IX": Joseph
Henry Press. 20011.
^ .S. .Sanders. S. L. Bt.wie, and Y. i)ias Bi.wie. "Ussons Learned on Knrucd Relixration olOlder Adults: The
and Siicial Sitppiin iil I'ublie Housing Residenis," Journal nf GeroiiU)li'f-ical Sticial Wiirk 40, no. 4 (20(13):
23-.15; and J. K. Riud and F. H. Norris. "The Inllui^nee of Relivation on the I'nvironnienial. Social, aiid
Psyehiilogical Siress F.;*pcricnccd hy Disii.ster Vietims,"
Impatl of Hun-jeanf AndrL-w on Health. Mental Health.
Environment ittij Behavior 28 (19%):
Figure 5. Social vulnerability and storm surge inundation along
the Mississippi and Alabama coasts
a
Poariingtofi
Dauphin idand
Social vuinerability
High
Average
Low
Louisiana
Mississippi
Alabama
Tliimana Cornsr
r
Point Clear
. Biloxi
Diamondhaai]
Gautier Uos» Poml
Bayou La Batre
Pass ChriBtian
PascaQouta
Gulf Shores
Bay SI LOUIS
Dauphin Itiand
Social vulnerability
in storm surge zones
High
Average
Louisiana
Low
NOTE: When downscaling the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) to the census tract level (a), four areas stand out with
the highest levels of social vulnerability in these two states-Mobile, Alabama; Bayou La Batre, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Pascagoula, Mississippi. Superimposing the modeled storm surge inundation for Hurricane Katrina (b)
on the social vulnerability highlights two areas that may require additional recovery resources given their high levels of
social vulnerability and the extent of the storm surge: Biloxi and Bayou La Batre.
SOURCE: S. I. Cutter et al., 2005.
MARCH 2006
ENVIRONMENT
19
DISASTER RECOVERY AND RECONSTRUCTION:
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
A 600-week reconstruction and recovery
period presents an uncommon opportunity to conducl longitudinal research for
this "natural experiment." Some questions of interest include:
• What mitigation measures are
deployed and how do they vary among
communities'.'
• In the return home, who comes
back? Why do they return and where do
they go?
• What social structures are most
effective tor long-term recovery in the
region (govemment, nongovernmental
organizations, faith-based, or local grass
roots)?
ill. K Niirris, M. Frit'dniJti. P. Wutsoii. C. Byrne, E.
ni;i/, :irid K. Kani;isly. "6i),(HI0 Disaster Viciims Speak.
Pan I: An Einpirieat Kcvieworihe Kmpirical Liieralurc,
19SI-2(H)I." rsychiatryb5 (2(H)2l: 207-.W; F. Norris,
M. f-riedmLin. ami P. Waisim, •WI.CXM) Disaster Vietims
Speak. Pan II:,Summary and Implieaiionsol the Disaster
Menial Hcallh Research," P.-iyclmitryfi5(2002): 24061); and V. Nt>rris, P,-iychii.wcial i'lmseijuences of Major
tlurrUmies and Floods. h(lp://www.nepisd.va.gi)v/
liipies/iiisaslcr_hand(>ui_pdls/KFHKCTS_hurrieanes_
Niirris.pdf. (aetessed 12 Deeember, 2005).
11. Haas, Kuies, and Bowden. note 7 above; J. D.
Wri^hl, P. H. Rossi, S. R. Wrighi and E. Weber-Burdin.
After the Clean-Up: tjing-Ranf^e Effects of Natural
Di,wj,v/f*-.vlBL-verly Hills; Sage, iy7y);H.P. Friesenia,J.
Caporaso, O. (joldstein, R. Lineberry, and R. MeCleary.
Aftermath: Communities after Natural t)i.\as!er\ I Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. 1479); S. K. Smilb and C.
MeCarlhy. 'TX'inographie EITeeis ot' Natural Ha/.ards:
A Case Study ol Hurrieanc Andrew." Demosraphy 33
(1996): 2fiS-7S; W. G. Peaeoek. B. H. M.irrow, and H.
Gladwin, eds.. Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicitv, (lender
mid the SocinUif-y 'if Disasters ([jindon: Roulledge,
!'W7); A. R. Pcbley, "Demography and ibe Envirnnnienl." Demofiraphy 3.1. n.i. 4 I ly'JSl: 377-89; and L. J.
Vu)e and T. J. Campanclla, eds.. The Resilieni Ciiy: How
Modem Cities Recover from Disaster (Oxlbrd: Oxlbrd
Universiiy Press. 2(K)5).
12. JoinI tinitcd Nations Programme on IIIV/AIDS
lUNAIDS). 2004 Report -in the Ghbal HIV/AIDS Epidemic: 4th Global Report., UNAIDS/f)4.16H (Geneva.
2(X)4); and C.T. Dahlman, •'Geographies of Geni)cide
and Kihnie Cloaiising: Tbe Lessons ol' Bosnia-Her/egovma." in C (•lint ed.. The Geography of War tmd
Peace: From Death Camps to Diplomats (Onlord, LI.K :
Oxliird liniversity Pre.ss. 2004), I74-<J7.
13. S. L. Cutler, B. J. Bi.rulT and W. L. Shirley, '"Soeial Vulnerability to Environmental Ha/ards."
Social Science Quarterly U. nu. 1 (2(XI3): 242-61; l^he
Hein/ Center, Human Links lo Cottstal Disasters (Washingtim. W : The H. J()bn Hcin/ III Ccnler lor Seienee,
Htiinomics and Ibe Hnvirdnmcnt. 2(M)2). 57-114; and
B. E. M o m / and G. A. Tobin, '"Snowbirds and Senior
20
ENVIRONMENT
" Who stayed behind (never left)?
Why did they stay and in which areas
was this common?
• Which industries remain, restructure, or close? How does this transform
the economic base of the region?
• How are places external to the
impacted region affected by displaced
peoples?
• Who will be the "new" poor? If
demographic change displaces them,
who will fill the gap?
• What is the mix of sustainable
environmental practices and socially
just developtnent that would create a
more livable future for the Gulf Coast?
Living l)eveli>pments: An Analysis of Vulnerability
AsstK.'iated wilh HtirriLane Charley," Quick Response
Research Report 177 (2(K)5), hitp;//www.eolorado.edu/
ba/.iirds/(|r/qrl77/qrl77.btml (aceessed 12 December
200.5 (.
14. S. L. Cutter. -Tlie Geography of Soeial Vulnerability: Race, Class, and Catastropbc." in Social Science
Research Ctiuncil, Understanding Kalrina: Perspectives
from the Social Sciences. http://uridersianJiiigkatriria
.ssrc.org/Cuttcr/ (accessed 20 Detemhcr 2fM)5).
15. K. Hewitt. Regions of Risk (Ksse>L, U.K.: Longman, 19971; and S. L. Cutter, '•The Seienee of Vulnerability and ihe Vulnerability of Seienee," Annals of ihe
AssiK iaiioit of Amerii an Cei'^raphers 93, no. I (2003):
1-12.
16. 1. Bunon, R. W. Kates, and G. K White, The
Environment as Hazard <2nd Edition) (New York: GuilIbrd, 1W3); antl M. Pelling, The Vulnerability of (Hies
(London: Earthscan, 2003).
17. P. Blaikie, T. Cannon,, 1. Davis, and B. Wisncr,
At Risk (London: Roulledge, 1994).
IS. G. Bankiiil, ''The Hisloriial (ieography of Disaster: "Vulnerability" antl 'Linral Knowledge' in Westem
Discourse," in G. BankolT. G. Krerks, and D. Hillmrst,
eds.. Mapping Vuinerahility (lAm<ioiv. Karthsfan, 2(M)4),
25-36. Quote is lakeii from page 30.
19. Cutter, Borutf, and Shirley, note 13 above, page
245.
20. Figures are for the twelve counties that experienced storm surge and Hoinling and arc derived Trom
ihe Spatial Ha/.ards Events and Losses Database for the
Uniled States, http://sheldus.org (accessed 20 Deeember
2(H)5).
21. Ibid. The severe storm portion of 30 pcreenl in
Louisiana is largely dtie to the 1995 Louisiana IliMxJing
eaused by a frontal system. The data source SHELDUS
underreiHirts Hood damage in Ljiuisiana because the
199.5 event is elassified as a severe slorm/thunderstonu
event instead.
22. J. D- Jarrell. M. Maylleld, H. N. Rappaport and
C. W. Landsea. The Deadliesi, Costliest, ami Most
Intense United States Hurricanes from 1900 lo 2000.
NO A A Technical Memorandum NWS TPC-1 (Miami,
FL, 2(M)1), http://www.aomLnoaa.gov/hrd/Laniiseii/
deadly/(aeeessed 19 Deeember 200.5).
23. Ibid.
24. Ibid. Although it was only a Category Three
hurricane. Hurricane Betsy was the llrst stonn to top $1
hillion (current tloliarsj.
2.5. J. J. Westerink and R. A. Luettich, "'The Creeping Slorm," Civil Kngitieerini; Magti:ine. June 21K)3,
hltp://www.pubs.asce.org/eLMnline/ceonline03/0603 leal
.html (accessed 19 Deeember 2005).
26. Cutter, note 14 above.
27. A. \i. Welis. '"Gt>od Neighbors? Distanee. Resistance, and Desegregation in Metropolitan New Orleans."'
Urban Education 39. no. 4 (2004): 408-427.
28. S. L Cutler und C. T. Rmrieh, "'Moral Hazard.
Social Catastrophe: The Changing Faee of Vulnerability
along the Hurricane Coasts." Special Volume, Sbelter
from the Storin: Repairing the National Emergency
Managemeni System after Hurricane Katrina, Annals of
rhi' American Aiademv of Political and Social Science
an (2(N)(.): forthcoming.
29. Ihid.
.10. A. Nossiter, ""Demolition of Thousands of Houses is Set lo Begin," The New York Times. 17 December
2005; L. Eaton and R. Nixon. ""Federal t^ans m
Homeowners along Gulf Liig," The New York Times.
15 Deeember 2005; and S. fX'wanand J. Robert.^,'"tjiuisiana's fJcadly Storm Took Both tbe Strong and the
Helpless," The New York Times. IK Deeember 2(M)5.
31. Tbese followed the methodology irom Culter,
Boruff and Shirley, note 13 above. The Social Vulnerability Index is one of the few sialisiieal attempts to
condense the multitude of vulnerability determinants
(race, class, and gender) into a single measure, lliis
single mettic allows lor a eomparative and longitudinal
assessment of s<x:iai vulnerability among U.S. eounlies,
the original unit of analysis.
32. Predieled storm surge area.s for Mississippi,
using the late.st Sea, Lake and Overland Surges Irom
llurrieanes (SLOSH) model run on 27 August 2{K)5
were appraised in relation to tbe eouniies and eensus
tracks of these eoastai areas. Tbe nuKlel output was
obtained from the National Hurricane Center, flp://
ltp.nhe.noaa.gov/pub/users/ (accessed 12 September
2(X)5).
33. A. t-ee and G. Laeour. "'Hundreds Feared Dead;
Fast Biloxi Hit Hardest," The Sun Herald (BiloxiI,
30 August 2(N)S; CBS. '"Katrina Vietims: Where's
FEMA'.'" CBS News. 6 September 2005, h(tp://www
.cbsncws.eom/sloric.s/200.5/09/06/4Khours/main«21S87
..shtml (aeeessed 20 I>eeember 2005); Oxfam America,
'"More Inelusive Help Needed in Future Emergencies,
Oxiam Tells Congress,"' http://www.oxiamameriea.org/
newsandpuhlication.s/news_updates/news_update.200512-06.8958562428 (accessed 20 Deeember 2005); and
D. Weir, "'Everything's Broken," Saltm. 13 December
2005, http://www.salon.c(mi/news/leature/2(K)5/l2/l3/
biloxi/ (accessed 20 December 2005).
.34. Biloxi, Mississippi, Mayor A. J. Holloway, quoled in G. Rivliii, "Bright Spot on Gulf as Casinos Rush
to Rebuild," The New York Times, 14 Deeember 2(X)5.
35. Ibid.
36. Assoc-ialed Press. "Mississippi Governor Signs
Bill to Rebuild Gull' Casinos on t-and," The New York
times. I8 0eiober2005.
37. T Wiicmon.. "Silver Slipper Gets OKi Palaee
Reopening on Dee. 30 also Approved hy Commission,"
The Sun Herald (Biloxi), 16 Dec. 2(XI.5, hltp://www
.sunhera.ld.eom/ml(i/sunheraJd/134!9755.btm (aeeessed
4 January 2(H)6).
VOLUME 48 NUMBER 2

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