Encounters with Katrina: Dynamics of Older Adults’ Social Support Networks

  • Karen A. Roberto
  • Yoshinori Kamo
  • Tammy Henderson


Hurricane Katrina forced the evacuation of thousands of people from the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast. Storm-displaced older adults faced many challenges during the evacuation process and in the months that followed. In this chapter we examine the dynamics of displaced older adults’ social networks during the evacuation and post-Katrina events. We begin with a brief review of the literature on social support in late life, with emphasis on social support in times of disaster. In the next section, we present findings from a mixed method study conducted in the post-Katrina immediate impact period. Qualitative analyses of interviews with storm-displaced older persons provide new evidence concerning reliance on others for help and emotional support as they faced the aftermath of the storm. We also examined their perceptions of the availability of network members to provide future assistance and support as they rebuild their lives. Implications of these findings for developing effective evacuation strategies and meeting the social and emotional needs of storm-displaced older adults during the recovery period are considered.


Emotional Support Community Service Network Member Baton Rouge Evacuation Process 
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The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation (Grant # 0650909), cooperation by local churches, New Orleans Council on Aging, East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, Council on Aging in St. Tammany, and the Governor’s Office on Elderly Affairs, and the assistance of numerous students at each of our respective universities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen A. Roberto
    • 1
  • Yoshinori Kamo
    • 2
  • Tammy Henderson
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Gerontology and Institute for Society, Culture and EnvironmentVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and Life Course and Aging CenterLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

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