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On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana, displacing half a million people and causing more than $100 billion in damage in the Greater New Orleans region. The nation wondered how the people of New Orleans could recover from a disaster of this magnitude, the costliest in American history. Within a few years of Katrina, hundreds of thousands had returned and were rebuilding their homes. How they have come back is, to say the least, something of a puzzle.
A decade later, this book presents 17 oral histories of Hurricane Katrina survivors from four diverse New Orleans communities. The oral histories explore how these individuals, families, and communities began to rebuild after the devastation. These testimonies show that communities can be surprisingly resilient in the wake of disaster, especially thanks to early and disproportionately large individual efforts.
Why have some communities rebounded quickly while others have lagged behind? Even after accounting for obvious factors, such as degree of damage, median income, and flood insurance, much of the variance remains unexplained. What are the socially embedded resources that communities have drawn on to develop effective recovery strategies? Why, despite the commitment of significant government resources, have many of the official forms of assistance produced disappointing results?
This book explores the answers to these persistent questions, which have dogged social scientists over the past 10 years. Perhaps most importantly, it serves as fitting tribute to the vision, resolve, and industriousness of those who came back.
About the Author: About the Authors Nona Martin Storr is an affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her work has focused on the political and social histories of disadvantaged communities. She holds a PhD in history from George Mason University and a MA in public history (with an emphasis in oral history) from Loyola University Chicago. Emily Chamlee-Wright is a senior research scholar and board member at the Mercatus Center. She is provost and dean of the college at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Her work examines the intersection between cultural and economic processes, and includes a groundbreaking body of work on community resilience in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, ethnographic research on female entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa, and theoretical work on cultural economy. Chamlee-Wright is the editor of Liberal Learning and the Art of Self-Governance (Routledge 2015), which investigates the role institutions of liberal learning play in fostering habits of engaged citizenship and robust civil society. Virgil Henry Storr is a senior research fellow and director of Graduate Student Programs at the Mercatus Center. He is also a research associate professor in the department of economics at George Mason University. His work has focused on the relationship between culture and economic action, including research on the role of entrepreneurship in promoting community rebound after disasters. Storr is a coauthor of the forthcoming Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster: Lessons in Local Entrepreneurship (Palgrave 2015) with Stefanie Haeffele-Balch and Laura E. Grube. About the Foreword Author Peter Boettke is the vice president and director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center as well as the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism and a University Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University. He has authored or coauthored 11 books, including his most recent, Living Economics.
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