Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



In 2005, Hurricane Katrina and subsequent levee failures produced widespread flooding in New Orleans, Louisiana and forced the evacuation of most of the local population. This event allowed for the study of the community’s resilience, or the ability of a system to absorb changes or perturbations and still function. Statistical analysis and case studies were used to study resilience and answer the following questions. Can natural community recovery models be used when evaluating the population recovery of a human community following a disturbance? Given that there are variations in population recovery patterns, what factors account for this difference in recovery? The recovery patterns of zip codes in Orleans Parish were able to be classified by those patterns demonstrated by tree communities following a hurricane, indicating that natural system models may be relevant to social communities. Census tracts of Orleans Parish were compared through discriminant analysis and it was delineated that higher flood depth, high percentage of black population, and low population with a bachelor’s degree have the greatest significant impact on population recovery. It was also indicated that flood depth was the most important factor affecting return to the area. Knowledge gained through this study is applied to methods that can improve the resiliency of New Orleans and other communities that face the threat of a disturbance. Through this analysis suggests that maintenance of the physical infrastructure and the natural ecosystem are essential to the resilience of New Orleans communities.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret