The disaster continues: A qualitative study on the experiences of displaced Hurricane Katrina survivors

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Disaster survivors have not only experienced a tragedy, but they may also have been simultaneously displaced to places usually unfamiliar to them. What does being displaced mean in terms of survivors' experiences? This qualitative study explored, through in-depth interviews, the experiences of nine displaced Hurricane Katrina (HK) survivors. Using critical theory as a framework, our intent was to describe the experiences before, during, and after HK of displaced survivors who sought disaster relief aid from a social services agency in a city in southeastern United States. A consensual qualitative research (CQR) analysis (Hill et al., 2005) yielded four domains: (a) Life before HK, (b) preparing for the storm, (c) losses after HK, and (d) consequences of being displaced. For these nine participants, life before HK was fraught with family conditions of poverty, substance abuse, and criminal arrest. In preparing for the storm, participants made the decision to stay or evacuate, depending on their contexts and available resources. Losses after HK included lives, shelter, employment, belongings, safety, and community. Consequences of being displaced included financial hardship, the fight for resources, loss of trust and faith in government, inadequate health care, strained relationships with family or friends, and separation from community. Displacement after the storm resulted in more vulnerability and the loss of a cultural community, which had been the participants' main source of support. These results underscore how practitioners and policymakers need to consider how culturally different the survivors' home was from where they were relocated. © 2012 American Psychological Association.

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Professional Psychology: Research and Practice





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