Project Overview

What is the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group?
Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive and costliest natural disaster to occur in the United States. Nearly 5 million people lived in the path of Katrina. An additional 1.3 million lived in the New Orleans metropolitan area at the time of the hurricane. Although not in the direct path of Katrina, New Orleans was devastated by a massive flood that occurred as a result. Government policy makers need to understand the problems faced by these more than 6 million people as they try to reconstruct their lives. This can best be done by monitoring, over time, a group of people who represent those affected by Katrina. The Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group is designed to do just that. The Advisory Group consists of a broad cross-section of people affected by Katrina, including separate samples of people who resided in the New Orleans metropolitan area at the time of the hurricane and those who resided in counties or parishes of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi that were in the path of the hurricane. Follow-up interviews are being conducted with the Advisory Group members to monitor the pace of recovery. Reports are being prepared for policy-makers. Press releases and digitally recorded oral histories are being posted on this web site as they become available along with summaries of the reports.

Who are the members of the Advisory Group?
The Advisory Group consists of a representative sample of 3000 people who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Some of the Advisory Group members have returned to New Orleans and other communities that were affected by Katrina. Others have started new lives in different communities while others continue to be in transition. Advisory Group members are selected using scientific methods from both households and group quarters (e.g., hotels, rooming houses) in order to make sure they are representative of all people affected by Katrina. As these people are now widely dispersed, over 100,000 residences were screened throughout the country to recruit the Advisory Group members. Some Advisory Group members were also recruited from relief agency lists, safe lists, and samples of hotels that continued to house people displaced by the hurricane at the time the sample was recruited.

What do Advisory Group members do?
Advisory Group members participate in a series of telephone interviews. The interviews cover a variety of questions about experiences during and after the hurricane, emotional reactions, problems that continue as of the time of the interview, opinions about the performance of government and private relief efforts, and practical suggestions about how these efforts could be improved. A selection of interviews also include an oral history component in which we record Advisory Group member descriptions of their experiences during and after the hurricane in order to build a permanent archive that can be used by historians, policy-makers, the press, and the public to understand the experiences of people who lived through Katrina. Anonymous digital recordings of the oral histories are posted on the Advisory Group web site as they become available.

Who is funding the Advisory Group?
Financial support for the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory group comes from NIH Research Grants R01 MH070884-01A2 and R01 MH081832 from the US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Administration for Children and Families.