Abstract: On Cities and Natural Disasters In 2013, German Sociologist Mark Kammerbauer published an article analyzing the effects of August 2005’s Hurricane Katrina on different cities, especially New Orleans, Louisiana. He conducted empirical research by means of a quantitative questionnaire survey, qualitative open-ended interviews, archival and document research, participant observation, and direct observation. The survey was self-administered twice in the Holy Cross neighborhood of New Orleans and once to Lower Ninth Ward evacuees in Houston, Texas. The results were compared to United States Census Bureau data and another survey held in Houston by Wilson and Stein.
The author also interviewed representatives of local, state, and federal level government as well as non-profit organizations.
The dependent variable was urban disaster (Hurricane Katrina). The independent variables were car ownership, homeownership, income, ethnicity, gender, age, location, and distribution of populations in cities. 16% of the survey participants had an annual income of $15,000 or less, 77% were African-American, 72% were female, and 60% were older than 50.
Kammerbauer questioned how preparation and stratification in the wake of disasters affect evacuation and relocation and how it produces a certain practice of adaptation.
His theory was that preparing for evacuation, return, and recovery interacts with ‘schismo-urbanism’ to create different forms of adaptation. Depending on the type of planning undergone before a natural disaster, the outcome will affect the rate of the departure and return of evacuees as well as the recovery rate following the disaster.
-1 The results of the author’s research do confirm these theories. His study of New Orleans pre/ post Hurricane Katrina showed that the cities’ poor planning affected how many people were able to successfully evacuate.
The advised method of evacuation was by car, when in fact; many citizens do not own vehicle. According the survey, only 47 evacuees left by way of their own car while 10 others did not evacuate because they had no means of transportation. As for returning after Katrina in terms of housing, 14 participants returned to their homes while 47 stated they could not move back. 42 participants of the survey cited that their homes were ‘strongly damaged’ while 28 cited that they were ‘completely destroyed’. Other difficulties in returning lie with the Road Home program, which was illustrated in the article.
In conclusion, the evacuation plan for New Orleans was faulty and a majority of residences had to find new homes in other states or cities. Survey results showed that many took up residence in Houston and have adapted to living there. Wherever evacuees went, whether they returned or not; either way they all had to recover from urban disaster and adapt.
The data showed validity, but not reliability, since the survey results were accurate, but not consistent. Overall, the article lacked comparative research, in my opinion. While it satisfied, there could’ve been more statistics on ethnicity and social status. Too much time was spent on theory, rather than facts. Also, the article’s conclusion could have included a solution to planning competent evacuation and recovery for all residences, regardless of their circumstances or economic status.