March, 2007

The Long Road Back: Signal Noise in the Post-Katrina Context - Working Paper

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On August 29, 2005, the nation watched as Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast, inflicting more than $100 billion of property damage across broad swaths of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama and ultimately claiming more than 1,600 lives.  In the wake of this catastrophic destruction, hopeful signs of community resilience appeared. Within days of the storm, many residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast had come home and begun to rebuild. Soon after floodwaters had receded from devastated St. Bernard Parish, district officials announced they would reopen a school by November 14 and pledged to serve any child who returned to the community. In New Orleans East, members of the Vietnamese-American community organized to gut, clean, and restore their homes and businesses, despite being told by city officials that it was unlikely they would be allowed to rebuild. Impressive as these and other efforts were, however, one cannot help but ask why, despite the community resilience visible in some areas, the overall pace of recovery has been so desperately slow.