On Cities and Natural Disasters

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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In 2013, German Sociologist Mark Kammerbauer published an article analyzing the effects of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 on various cities, particularly New Orleans, Louisiana. He conducted empirical research using a quantitative questionnaire survey, qualitative open-ended interviews, archival research, document research, participant observation, and direct observation. The survey was self-administered twice in New Orleans’ Holy Cross neighborhood and once to evacuees from the Lower Ninth Ward in Houston, Texas. Survey results were compared with data from the United States Census Bureau and another survey conducted in Houston by Wilson and Stein.

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Additionally, the author interviewed representatives of local, state, and federal-level governments along with non-profit organizations.

The dependent variable was urban disaster (specifically, Hurricane Katrina), while the independent variables included car ownership, homeownership, income, ethnicity, gender, age, location, and population distribution in cities. The survey revealed that 16% of participants had an annual income of $15,000 or less; 77% were African-American; 72% were female; and 60% were older than 50.

Kammerbauer sought to understand how disaster preparedness and societal stratification affected evacuation, relocation, and subsequent adaptation practices. He theorized that the process of preparing for evacuation, return, and recovery in conjunction with ‘schismo-urbanism’, led to distinct adaptive strategies. The nature and efficacy of pre-disaster planning have lasting impacts on evacuee departures, returns, and overall recovery post-disaster.

The author’s research findings support these theories. His study of pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans revealed that substandard planning adversely affected citizens’ ability to evacuate. Although authorities recommended car evacuation, many residents lacked this means of transport. The survey showed that only 47 evacuees escaped via their own car. Simultaneously, 10 others didn’t evacuate because they lacked means of transportation. Only 14 participants returned to their homes following Katrina. Meanwhile, 47 stated they couldn’t return, primarily because 42 participants’ homes were ‘significantly damaged’, and 28 others’ homes were ‘completely destroyed’. Complications with the Road Home program further stymied returns, an issue elaborated upon in the article.

In conclusion, New Orleans’ evacuation plan was flawed, resulting in many residents finding new homes elsewhere, often in other states or cities. Survey results indicated that a significant number relocated to Houston and adapted to their new environment. Regardless of whether evacuees returned or stayed in their new locations, all had to recover from the urban disaster and adapt to their circumstances.

While the data showed validity, they lacked reliability—survey results were accurate but inconsistent. In my view, the article lacked comparative research. Although it provided sufficient information, additional statistics pertaining to ethnicity and social status would have improved the analysis. The author gave substantial emphasis to theory, overshadowing factual information. Additionally, the article’s conclusion could have proposed a comprehensive plan to facilitate effective evacuation and recovery for all residents, regardless of their unique circumstances or economic statuses.

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On Cities and Natural Disasters. (2022, Nov 20). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/on-cities-and-natural-disasters/