Faith, Crisis, Coping, and Meaning Making After Katrina: A Qualitative, Cross-Cohort Examination

  • Loren D. Marks
  • Katie E. Cherry
  • Jennifer L. Silva


Very few studies in the disaster literature include elderly adults, whose life experiences, perceptions, and spiritual needs in the post-disaster period may markedly differ in comparison to younger cohorts. In this 3, we address the topic of how young, middle age, older, and oldest-old adults coped with and made meaning of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita during the storms and their aftermath. The individuals who provided the qualitative interviews upon which this chapter is based were enrolled in the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS), a multidisciplinary study of the determinants of longevity and healthy aging (see Cherry, Silva, & Galea,  Chapter 9 of this volume). We begin this chapter by presenting three central themes to contextualize our findings. These themes include (1) crisis, in the sense of a significant, developmental turning point (cf. Erikson E.H., 1998); (2) coping, a behavioral response to stressful events; and (3) meaning making, which pertains to an individual’s unique interpretation of an event and attributions for why it happened. We describe the sample, interview procedures, coding process, and emergent themes arising from the qualitative interviews. Implications for adjustment, acceptance, and personal growth in the post-disaster period are considered.


Young Cohort Baton Rouge Emergent Theme Coping Resource Meaning Making 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Tracey Frias, Miranda Melancon, and Zia McWilliams for their assistance with data summary and qualitative analyses. We also thank M.E. Betsy Garrison for her helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

This research was supported by grants from the Louisiana Board of Regents through the Millennium Trust Health Excellence Fund [HEF(2001-06)-02] and the National Institute on Aging P01 AG022064. This support is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loren D. Marks
    • 1
  • Katie E. Cherry
    • 2
  • Jennifer L. Silva
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Family, Child and Consumer Sciences, School of Human Ecology and Life Course and Aging CenterLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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