Perceptions of Older Adults in a Community Accepting Displaced Survivors of Hurricane Katrina
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We examined the perceptions of older, long-term residents of Baton Rouge, LA, a primary receiving city of persons displaced by Hurricane Katrina, toward their community before and after Hurricane Katrina and their attitudes toward displaced newcomers to their community. Using a mixed method design, we conducted face-to-face interviews with a convenience sample of adults aged 60 and older 6 to 10 months after the storm. We used descriptive statistics, mean difference tests, multiple regression analyses, and Grounded Theory Methods. Residents’ perceived changes in their communities included traffic, crime, and other changes (e.g., number of people in stores and restaurants, access to services, delays in mail and cell phone service, and cost of insurance premiums) weeks following Hurricane Katrina. Six to ten months later, older residents in our Baton Rouge sample perceived significant improvement regarding traffic and costs of living, but crime and daily hassles left a long-term scar on the community and its older residents. While Baton Rouge residents in our sample reported becoming friendlier, more patient, and more tolerant of others, they also became more suspicious, more fearful of others, and feeling taken advantage of by displaced survivors. Factors affecting their perceptions of interpersonal relationships included the participant’s perceived changes in their communities. Suggestions are offered on disaster preparedness and response policies to minimize negative effects of a disaster on host cities.
KeywordsHurricane Katrina Older residents Receiving city Changes in community Perception of others Compassion fatigue
This manuscript is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation—NSF Grant Number No. 0650909. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The authors would like to thank our collaborators, including local churches, New Orleans Council on Aging, East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, Council on Aging in St. Tammany, the Governor’s Office on Elderly Affairs, the Advocate, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New Orleans, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, and others for their assistance with this project. We also would like to thank Allie Hassen and Danielle King, Undergraduate Research Assistants at Oklahoma State University, for their assistance on this project.
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