Social costs of displacement in Louisiana after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

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Hundreds of thousands of Louisiana citizens were displaced from their homes as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Of those displaced within Louisiana some relocated to other parishes, some to other residences within the same parish, and others were able to return to their pre-storm residence. This article draws upon data gathered by the 2006 Louisiana Health and Population Survey to examine the social costs of displacement across 18 Louisiana parishes approximately 1 year after the hurricanes. Specifically, we examine how displacement affected housing, economic, and health outcomes for individuals and families. Further, we compare the implications of two types of displacement (1) internal displacement-within-parish relocation versus (2) external displacement-relocation across parish lines. We found that the displaced had lower odds of owning their homes, living in detached housing, and retaining access to primary health care facilities. The displaced were also more likely to be unemployed and exhibit symptoms consistent with severe mental illness. The externally displaced suffered income declines. These trends are critically important for understanding both the short- and long-term ramifications of displacement after disaster. Our findings have implications for theories, policy makers, and planners considering the larger social costs of disaster and large-scale displacement. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009.

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Population and Environment

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