Hurricane Katrina forced the largest and most abrupt displacement in US history. More than a million people were forced to relocate across all fifty states, and tens of thousands still remain displaced. Some are desperate to return to the Gulf Coast but cannot find the means. Others have chosen to make their homes elsewhere. Still others found a way to return home but were unable to stay due to the limited availability of social services, educational opportunities, health care options, and affordable housing.
The contributors to Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora have been following the lives of Katrina evacuees since 2005. Drawing on research in thirteen communities in seven states across the country, they describe the struggles that evacuees have faced in securing life-sustaining resources and rebuilding their lives, and they recount the impact that the displaced have had on communities that initially welcomed them and then later experienced “Katrina fatigue” as the ongoing needs of evacuees strained local resources. Displaced reveals that Katrina took a particularly heavy toll on households headed by low-income African American women who lost the support provided by local networks of family and friends. It also shows the resilience and resourcefulness of Katrina evacuees who have built new networks and partnered with community organizations and religious institutions to create new lives in the diaspora.
Displaced is the first volume in the Katrina Bookshelf series, edited by Kai Erikson and published by the University of Texas Press. The series is a result of an SSRC-sponsored national effort to bring experts together in a collaborative program of research on the human costs of Hurricane Katrina.