The Center for Social Work Research
The School of Social Work
Hurricane Recovery Research Collaborative


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Hurricane Katrina Research Funded by the National Science Foundation
(a sample of projects found on NSF database August, 2007)

Project descriptions are were adapted from abstracts found on the NSF database.

Carnegie-Mellon University
Adapting to Evacuation: Using Information Technology for Social Support

Description: "This research investigates how information and communication technologies played a role in the Hurricane Katrina disaster for disadvantaged populations. Research on the effects of disasters consistently shows that women and victims of lower socioeconomic status are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of forced relocation. In what ways did information and communication technologies enable or fail to enable significant help for these vulnerable groups? Recent natural disasters forced thousands of people to relocate involuntarily and damaged or destroyed many communities. Information and communication technologies appear to have played a significant role in helping victims cope with the aftermath of the disasters."
Principal Investigator: Robert Kraut

East Carolina University
SGER Collection of Economic Impact Data: Implications for Disaster Areas and Receiving Regions

Description: This research will examine the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina upon both the metropolitan regions that were directly struck by the hurricane and the metropolitan regions that served as host regions for the thousands of evacuees he left New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region. Initial estimates indicate that Katrina will likely be the costliest storm in United States history. More than a million Gulf coast residents were displaced by the storm. The research will focus upon the collection and analysis of ephemeral, time-sensitive data. Surveys of evacuees will be conducted in Gulfport/Long Beach, MS and Lubbock, TX. Economic, social, psychological and experiential data will be collected from a sample of approximately 400 evacuees at each site.
Principal Investigator: Jamie Brown Kruse

Florida State University
Who is to Blame? Public Perceptions of the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Preferences for Policy Change

Description: "This project submitted under the Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program investigates how the citizens use media interpretations of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to help them develop a framework with which to attribute blame and interpret policy relevant information. By examining three different frameworks, the researchers will study how these lead to different interpretations of the effectiveness of the government's response to this crisis."
Principal Investigator: Cherie Maestas

Louisiana State University & Agricultural and Mechanical College
Impacts of Hurricane Katrina Storm Surge on the Human and Built Environments

Description: "Hurricane Katrina is likely to go into the history books as the most catastrophic windstorm to strike the United States in recorded history. It offers an unprecedented opportunity to collect perishable data that will assist emergency planners and bridge officials in facing similar disasters in the future."
Principal Investigator: Marc Levitan

New York University
Dynamic Cognitive and Motivational Properties of System Justification

Description: "The aim of this project is to investigate human responses to threats directed at existing social systems. Threats to the status quo may be direct, as when the American system was attacked on 9/11, or indirect, as when its faults are exposed, as in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Such threats tend to provoke negative affect and motivate people to defend and bolster the social system. This defensive response serves to reestablish positive affect, but it can have unanticipated and sometimes deleterious consequences. System justification, which refers to the psychological process whereby the status quo is defended and upheld simply because it exists, has been associated with increased stereotyping, victim-blaming, and resistance to change."
Principal Investigator: John Jost

Oklahoma State University
Establishment and Operation of Shelters Serving Socially Vulnerable Populations: A Socio-spatial Analysis

"This research examines how emergency and temporary shelters were established and operated after Hurricane Katrina. The project focuses on shelters serving socially vulnerable populations, particularly those requiring special needs support. Although the publicly recognizable, formal Red Cross shelters serve many in need, the staggering numbers of displaced persons required that many informal shelters open as well. Accordingly, this study tries to understand the range of shelter types that opened to serve the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons, many of whom were low-income, the elderly, women and children, racial and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities."

Principal Investigator: Brenda Phillips

Rand Corporation
Survey and Analysis of Decision Making in the Displaced Populations from Hurricane Katrina

"The researchers propose to conduct a follow up survey of populations displaced by hurricane Katrina. They are aware of previous studies of disasters using survey approaches and have proposed a coherent model of interactions of social and human nature following disasters. RAND had already collected data from 1100 persons in September 2005 and proposes to follow up with further surveys of 300 evacuees in Jackson and Mobile. They would focus questions on decision making for efforts to repatriate or relocate to other communities. They propose to develop a broad analytic framework for simulation modeling of large populations base in utility theory, evacuation network theory, health beliefs, economic theory, and social network theory."
Principal Investigator: Kavita Patel

Rutgers University New Brunswick
Inferred and Experienced Intergroup Emotions as Predictors of Helping of Victim Groups: Helping When We -- not They -- Need it Most

Description: "The proposed research will explore how people's perceptions of the emotional suffering of Hurricane Katrina victims - many of whom are members of stigmatized groups -- influence their intentions to help or not to help. A growing body of evidence suggests that intergroup biases strongly influence people's inferences about the emotional states of others. People are less likely to attribute higher order, "human" emotions - like grief, or mourning - to members of stigmatized groups. However, research has not yet addressed how biased inferences about others' emotional suffering might influence how people respond to those others. The proposed studies examine the hypothesis that "dehumanization" of Hurricane Katrina victims will decrease people's intentions to help Hurricane Katrina victims, in general."
Principal Investigator: Amy Cuddy

University of Massachusetts, Boston
Adversity and resilience: Understanding the effects of Hurricane Katrina on vulnerable populations

Description: "The goal of this study is to examine how a group of 200 low-income parents from New Orleans, all of whom registered for community college in 2004, have coped with the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The researchers will study how the pre-hurricane resources and capacities of individuals--defined to include their mental and physical health, social networks, and economic resources--affect their ability to successfully adjust to a major life trauma. The researchers will also examine the determinants of successful social and economic adjustment, including the re-establishment of social networks and resumption of employment and educational activities."
Principal Investigator: Jean Rhodes

University of Mississippi
Evacuees Perceptions of Disaster Relief and Recovery: Analyzing the Importance of Social and Kinship Networks Among Hurricane Evacuees on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Description: "The central question of the study is about the role that social (and kinship) networks in determining a person's success in the aftermath of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina. 'Success' refers to the individual's capacity to obtain physical and emotional relief as well as to maintain a strong perception of eventual community recovery in the immediate disaster aftermath."
Principal Investigators: David Swanson, Mark Van Boening, and Richard Forgette

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tracking Migratory Behavior of Hurricane Katrina Evacuees, Phase I: Sample Identification, Data Collection & Analysis

Description: "Hurricane Katrina led to the largest urban evacuation in U.S. history, triggering a major, unplanned social experiment in the dynamics of contemporary urbanization and migration. To improve understanding of these dynamics, this project identifies a sample of evacuees from New Orleans, designs and implements a survey to collect data on their short-term migratory behavior, and uses the collected data, in conjunction with ecological data on current and prior neighborhood characteristics, to test hypotheses regarding migration networks and links between spatial and economic mobility."

Principal Investigator: James Johnson, Jr.

University of Texas at Arlington
The Role of Schools in Mediating the Academic, Social, and Psychological Effects of a Forced Evacuation on Youth

Description: "The devastation resulting from Hurricane Katrina has elicited unprecedented levels of charitable giving on the part of the general public. This event offers a unique opportunity to study many aspects of altruistic behavior, risk perceptions and risk attitudes, and the interaction between risk perceptions and attitudes and altruistic giving. Furthermore, the event offers the opportunity to study how such an event alters altruistic tendencies and risk perceptions and attitudes, and how these changes dissipate over time. We request funding under the SGER program because of the urgency of collecting data on perceptions and altruism as soon as possible after the disaster, before attitudes are changed by the passage of time.
Principal Investigator: Edith Barrett

University of Texas at Dallas
The Dynamics of Collaboration in Emergency Planning for America's Schools:
The chaos following Hurricane Katrina made clear that effective emergency response requires the collaboration of many different types of organizations
Description: "A central question in emergency response after Katrina will be how to achieve successful collaboration. This study will provide insight into the factors promoting high quality emergency planning in schools (with special attention to the role of collaboration in the emergency planning process) and the dynamics of collaboration on planning in public agencies generally."

Principal Investigator: Scott Robinson

Last Modified: February 5, 2009