Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Due to the effects of global climate change, natural disasters such as hurricanes are increasing in terms of both intensity and frequency. During the record-breaking hurricane season of 2005, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma struck the U. S. Gulf Coast, affecting areas from Texas to Florida and causing billions of dollars in damage. This study examines the allocation of FEMA Public Assistance across the affected Gulf of Mexico states, what factors account for variation in in assistance allocation, what are the priorities for recovery among county leaders and what obstacles they have encountered since 2005. This study includes 136 counties and seven independent variables. The analysis includes bivariate correlation and multiple regression analysis, and a brief survey that was sent out to the Emergency Management Agency Director in each county of the study area. The results show that the level of damage and amount of poverty within a county were strong predictors of Public Assistance allocation. Debris Removal and Infrastructure projects were the highest overall priority for communities and the most common obstacle faced by the local government was difficulty in getting a firm commitment from FEMA regarding the eligibility of a project. These results have important implications for future disaster management that will face ever-evolving risks.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret