Post-Disaster Urban Reconstruction’s Effect on Mental Health: A Case Study of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Residents

Head shot of Hope Carmody

Name: Hope Carmody
Majors: Urban Studies, Psychology
Advisors: Hamed Goharipour, Heather Fitz Gibbon

Research Supported by the Copeland Fund

Laying on rafters for days on end to avoid high flood water was the reality for many during Hurricane Katrina. The destruction of homes and livelihoods are affected to this day. This research project investigates the long-standing effects of Hurricane Katrina to better understand the residents’ experience through the lens of psychological and urban resilience. Disaster resilience refers to the ability of a community to experience and recover quickly and efficiently from the disaster. Psychological resilience centers on the actions that promote positive mental wellbeing for people. Urban resilience emphasizes the health of the environment with influence from people. The existing literature highlights certain criteria that support psychological and urban resilience, such as levels of community, governmental, and family support, positive coping mechanisms, support from religious communities, high quality greenspaces, flood prevention tactics, distance to the waterfront etc. This project employs a mixed methods research design, featuring semi structured interviews based on the resilience criteria with New Orleans residents and public database information to support or refute trends that are discussed in the interviews. It is important to note that the information presented from the interviews is not generalizable to the New Orleans population as participants are not from a random sample. The results of the study indicate that there were many shortcomings with the governmental response to Hurricane Katrina, with inequitable treatment by race and income being prominent. Community and family-based support was most beneficial to resident recovery. Recommendations for future hurricane responses include focusing on equitable treatment and streamlining financial support to help residents in a more efficient manner.

Keywords: resilience, Hurricane Katrina, psychology, urban, New Orleans, equity

I hope that this project will represent the voices of people who have ordinarily not had the opportunity to share their experiences with Hurricane Katrina. The disaster aid process needs to be changed in order to best support people and promote resilience, creating a better society for all.

Dr. Melissa Schultz Sustainability and the Environment Award

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 13, 2023.

One response to “Post-Disaster Urban Reconstruction’s Effect on Mental Health: A Case Study of Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Residents”

  1. Shelley Judge says:

    Awesome job, Hope. You know that I’m fascinated by the results of your I.S., because we talked in class this semester about PTSD of residents in Flint, MI, after their environmental crisis. You should be so proud of yourself.

Related Posts

Hope Carmody '23

An urban study on resilience inspires desire to implement change in disaster preparedness processes

Ryan Johnston '23

Turnip Turn-in: Park Ranger intern sets precedents for research classification and completion

Katie Spence '23 and dancers

From pollination to performance: Biology and dance student brings the honeybee waggle to Wooster

Related Areas of Study

Urban Studies

A blend of sociology, economics, and political science for those with a passion for the promise and challenges of cities

Major Minor


Do research, work with faculty mentors, and tailor a psychology program to your interests

Major Minor

Connect with Wooster