Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



Hurricane Katrina tested the disaster resiliency of communities throughout the city of New Orleans. More than four years after breaches in levees led to the flooding of one hundred forty square miles of the Crescent City, some residents are still struggling to reclaim their neighborhoods one block at a time. Eastern Orleans Parish is a portion of the local landscape whose long-term sustainability remains uncertain. Rebuilding is extremely slow with only a fraction of residents returning to the area. Development in New Orleans East began after World War II as a result of urban sprawl. Many New Orleanians desired a more suburban lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle of the central city. Financial gains from the oil boom of the 1970’s led to the construction of dozens of neighborhoods in Eastern Orleans Parish, fueling a mass expansion eastward. Consensus over whether to continue to spend federal aid dollars rebuilding the eastern portion of the city is tenuous at best. A number of New Orleanians are reluctant to reconstruct an area that some regard as being too far gone to fully recover, with others adding that the land should be returned to its natural state as a swamp, creating a buffer that would lessen the impact of future storm surge on the historic center. The uncertainty that surrounds the fate of New Orleans East influences the decision of the local population to return and rebuild. However, there are many residents who chose to ignore the naysayers, striving to revitalize their suburban dream against all odds. This research offers a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary exploration of the human impact of a disaster event. The text sheds light on the complexities that surround the dual concepts of disaster resilience and vulnerability by revealing the disaster experiences and community recovery processes of Vietnamese and African-American populations living in New Orleans East.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Richardson, Miles