Research and Recovery Work
Department of Sociology
Louisiana State University
Community: Paths to Recovery
in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina."
(Funded by the National Science Foundation.)
A comparison of communities in New Orleans & surrounding areas since Hurricane Katrina. How did communities recover, and what does recovery mean? We look at repopulation, rebuilding, emotional well-being or stress, evaluations of leaders, theological views, and hopes or fears about the future. We are especially interested to see what role social capital (civic engagement, community cohesion, social support, social networks, community organizations) plays, compared to economic and material factors.
The study includes a survey of area residents (N=7,000), conducted door-to-door and face-to-face, as well as by internet, plus a survey of neighborhood association presidents (N=70), and videotaped interviews with a wide variety of community leaders and members (N=ca. 125). We have worked closely with more than 200 community organizations, which has given us a more intimate view of recovery than would otherwise have been possible. The analysis combines survey, GIS (geographical information systems), ethnographic, and organizational analyses in a multi-method, multi-level framework.
We finished our data collection in 2011 and have been analyzing the data. Our analyses show the beneficial impact of social capital, civic engagement, and community organization on:
- Repopulation, as measured by the U.S. Census and the U.S. Postal Service,
- Rebuilding and Recovery, as measured by our resident survey,
- Blight Reduction, as measured by the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Housing and Urban Development,
- Stress Reduction, Sense of Well-Being, and Optimism about Recovery, as measured by our resident survey,
- Reduction of Violent and Non-Violent Crime, as measured by the New Orleans Police Department.
We are now also using our survey to analyze "post-recovery" neighborhood outcomes like:
- Heart Health, as measured by the Centers for Disease Control,
- Airbnbs and Short-Term Rentals, as measured by insideairbnb.com,
- Foreclosures, as measured by HUD.
Basic survey results, broken down by subgroup, here
Watch this website for reports and publications of our findings, as well as progress reports on the documentary video we are making, and related work.
We have also begun
a series of photographic "portraits" of New Orleans neighborhoods since Katrina. See this page for links to some of the neighborhood portraits.
and Reports. Papers on the influence of social capital, civic engagement, and community organization on repopulation, blight reduction, employment loss, violent and non-violent crime, and other outcomes - published, under review, or in draft. Watch this space for their progress.
- Frederick D Weil. 2020. "Researching Crime After a Disaster: What We Can Learn From a Large Survey in New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina." American Behavioral Scientist, https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764220938107. - here
- Frederick Weil and Heather Rackin. 2019. "Neighborhood Organizations and the Repopulation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina." Paper presented at the 44th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop Researchers Meeting July 17-18, 2019, Broomfield, Colorado. - Powerpoint here
- Barton, Michael S., Frederick D Weil, Matthew Valasik, Heather M Rackin, Lynnette Coto. 2020. "What was Washed Away and What Remained: An Assessment of the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Index Crimes." Journal of Crime and Justice. DOI: 10.1080/0735648X.2020.1749712. here
- Kevin J. Brown and Frederick D. Weil. 2019. "Strangers in the Neighborhood: Violence and Neighborhood Boundaries." Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, doi.org/10.1177/0891241619857150. - here
- Frederick D. Weil, Michael S. Barton, Heather M. Rackin, Matthew Valasik, and David Maddox. 2019. “Collective resources and violent crime reconsidered: New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi.org/10.1177/0886260518822345. - here
- Frederick D. Weil, Heather M. Rackin, and David Maddox. 2018. "Collective Resources in the Repopulation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina," in Natural Hazards 94(2): 927-952, DOI: 10.1007/s11069-018-3432-7. - here
- Weil, Frederick. 2012. “Can Citizens Affect Urban Policy? Blight Reduction in Post-Katrina New Orleans.” Paper presented at the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, New Orleans, August 31, here.
- Weil, Frederick. 2011. "Rise of Community Organizations, Citizen Engagement, and New Institutions," in Amy Liu, Roland V. Anglin, Richard Mizelle, and Allison Plyer, editors, Resilience and Opportunity: Lessons from the U.S. Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita, pp. 201-219. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. here.
Olivia, Frederick D. Weil, and Kavita Patel.
Role of Community in Disaster Response: Conceptual
Models.” Population Research and Policy
Review 29, 2:127-141. DOI 10.1007/s11113-009-9133-x. here.
of the New Orleans Music Community Reports" with
Sweet Home New Orleans, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and see
the Music Community section of this website.
- The Jewish Community of Greater New Orleans 2007
Community Survey Report,
and see the Jewish Federation section of
- See other
sections of this website for more reports.
- In Progress
- Frederick D. Weil. “Conducting a Large Resident Survey to Understand Crime after a Disaster: Utility, Challenges, Limitations.” Forthcoming in a special issue of the American Behavioral Scientist on Crime and Disaster.
- Frederick D. Weil, Hyojung Kim, Heather Rackin, and David Maddox. “Collective Resources and Employment in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.”
- Frederick D. Weil, Edward Shihadeh, and Timothy T. Reling. “Do collective resources reduce the number of Airbnbs in a neighborhood? Evidence from New Orleans.” Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Sociological Association, New York, August 10-13, 2019.
- Frederick D. Weil and Rhiannon A. Kroeger. “Race and Cardiovascular Risk in New Orleans Neighborhoods: Does Social Capital Matter?”
- Frederick D. Weil, Michael S. Barton, and Connor L. Burruss. “Social Capital and Foreclosures in Baton Rouge at the Start of the Housing Bubble.” Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Southern Sociological Society, Atlanta, April 10-13, 2019.
- Frederick D. Weil and Kevin J. Brown. “Neighborhood Recovery Strategies in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: A Qualitative Analysis.”
- Frederick D. Weil. Photographic Portraits of New Orleans Neighborhoods with interviews. In progress; planned book in visual sociology. See http://www.rickweil.com/NolaNBHs/
on our research
York Times, May 14, 2013, "Celebrating, in Spite of the Risk" (on our findings about
Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs)
- The Advocate,
May 20, 2013, "Second-line organizations not to blame for violence" (on our findings about
Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs)
Sep 9, 2010, "Mainstream Media Doesn't Care About
Black People: A Kanyesque Teachable
Second Line Culture Bias" (on our findings about
Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs)
Street Journal, Sept 2, 2010, "New
Orleans, 5 Years On"
York Times, September 1, 2010, "Katrina,
Five Years Later"
Post, August 29, 2010, "New Orleans
five years later"
- New Orleans Times
Picayune, August 29, 2010, "Katrina
inspires New Orleans to find its voice"
Business Times, August 29, 2010, "New
Angeles Times, August 29, 2010, "Five
years after Katrina, New Orleans still caught
between storms. Rebuilding efforts have turned
it into a hopeful start-up city, but troubling
new - and old - problems abound."
York Times, August 27, 2010, "On Anniversary
of Katrina, Signs of Healing"
August 27, 2010, "Five Years On, New Orleans
Musicians Still Struggling"
August 27, 2010, "Struggling to Make Ends
Meet is the New Norm" (on the music & cultural
August 26, 2010, "Gulf Coast could be poised
for comeback, Downbeat perception doesn’t
match upbeat indicators"
- New Orleans Times-Picayune,
August 26, 2010, "New Orleans musicians hurting
5 years after Katrina, study finds"
Angeles Times, August 26, 2010, "The
state of working musicians in New Orleans: 'Half
the gigs ... and the work pays less'"
Today, Aug 15, 2010, "Gulf oil spill
adds facet to Katrina recovery"
Results, before data collection was complete
down by selected social groups - as charts (8/2009)
Analytical Summary of Results, here (6/2008)
- A "first cut" overview for the documentary film we hope to make, here
- A Slide
Show Overview here (3/26/15) -
- Video of a
talk I gave in March 2010 at Purdue,
- (The link
opens a video viewer in another window. It's
safe, if your system asks)
- Initial Proposals & Project Descriptions
to the National Science Foundation, August
to the National Science Foundation, February
- An Initial
Description, from May 2006, here.
of Respondents' Pre-Katrina Residence (partial)
Sample Size is N = ca. 7,000
[Blue shades are flooding extent]
More maps here
- On Paper, here.
Leaders can print this out and duplicate as many copies
as they need, to distribute to their membership.
this page for an OLD version of the questionnaire)
Survey Questionnaires -
Survey of Neighborhood Associations, here.
Survey now in the field in collaboration with NPN,
the Neighborhoods Partnership Network, as part
of their Capacity College. To be merged with surveys
of individuals in a multi-level framework.
Survey of Churches, here.
Interviews of church leaders and administrators,
asking about their recovery strategies. We will
seek to survey their congregations with our social
survey and merge the individual and organizational
surveys in a multi-level framework.
Housing Survey, here.
Data collected on PDAs with GPS locating unit,
with accompanying photographs. Augmented by video
imagery with GPS collected from vehicle. To be
merged with surveys of individuals.
Questionnaires from Related Projects (see other sections
of this website) -
Fraud Survey, here.
YURP Survey, the Young Newcomers to New Orleans.
questionnaire of prospective YURPs,
- for a fuller list of organizations we have worked
with, see here. In
all cases, we give survey results back to the groups we
- The Catholic
Churches of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, in Orleans & surrounding
- The Episcopal, Lutheran,
Methodist, & Southern Baptist churches
in the Greater New Orleans area,
- A number of other Baptist & A.M.E. churches,
- The Jewish
Communities of Greater New Orleans & Baton Rouge, through
Federations & Synagogues,
- Chalmette, in St.
- The Vietnamese of
New Orleans East (photos here),
- Several dozen
(and counting) Neighborhood Associations,
- Outreach with Acorn, LouisianaRebuilds.Info,
Partnership Network, PolicyLink,
and many other community and advocacy organizations,
- In cooperation
with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which sponsored
the survey on their online Neighborhood Forums (here).
- Clients of
Social Service organizations and community centers,
- Evacuees who
have not (yet) returned to New Orleans, including residents
of FEMA trailer villages and living in other cities (see
photos of data collection at Renaissance Village here),
- New Orleans
Musicians, Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs (data
collection pics here and
here and here), & Mardi
Gras Indians, in cooperation with Sweet
Home New Orleans, WWOZ public
radio, and the Roots
of Music program,
- Young newcomers
to the city who are engaged in entrepreneurial and social
justice activities, in partnership with NOLA
YURP (Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals).
- More samples
Selected Results & Background
- Results, here (5/2009)
- A preliminary
analysis of whether Social Capital reduces Violent Crime,
- Selected Maps, here.
- Jewish Federation of
Greater New Orleans: many results here
- Preliminary comparison
of four different communities, here (5/2008)
selected findings from early, nonrepresentative sample, here (Data
collected second half of 2006.)
Diagram - Preliminary results & analyses support
of Data Collection. In
all cases, we give survey results back to the groups we
- At the Annual
Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force
Picnic, May 30, 2009; photos of interviewing here.
Photos of the Nine Times SAPC Second Lining to the Hot 8
Brass Band at the picnic, here.
- In Village de
l'Est in the Vietnamese community, in partnership with
Mary Queen of Vietnam Catholic Church and Community
Development Corporation. Photos here.
- In Treme
and the 7th Ward. Data collection in February-April
2009; photos here.
We partnered with the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center, the "Porch,"
and other community organizations in these classic New Orleans
Men Olympians Social Aid & Pleasure Club, at
their clubhouse in Central City. Data collection in January
2009; photos here.
We put on a party with the YMO, who celebrated their
125th anniversary this year, with a meal & brass
- The Roots
of Music, after-school music program for middle-school
students. Students took questionnaires home to their
parents & returned them completed; summer 2008. Info,
videos, photos here;
more photos here and here.
- Acorn's Community
Center in the Lower 9th Ward; New Orleans East. Data
collection in April 2008; photos here.
Park & Gentilly Woods (Pontilly). Data collection
in January 2008; photos here.
We worked with the Pontilly Neighborhood Association,
who brought in 40 law student volunteers from around
Village, Baker, LA, the largest FEMA trailer site.
Data collection in July 2007; photos here.
We organized a party with resident leaders, featuring
dinner & a brass band. (We worked with the residents
from the village's opening after the storm until its
closing in 2008. For instance, we put in a cafe, which
became a community center.)
Resources & Background
for Community Leaders, here -
[these materials were available for community leaders during the period of data collection]
- What you
can learn from the survey, here.
- A note to leaders
describing the project, here
- If you lead a
team of volunteers who want to participate, here
- Announcements of
the survey for Churches or Neighborhood
Associations that can be used in bulletins, newsletters,
handouts, emails, websites, etc.
- Easy Ideas for
distributing the Survey, here
- A Question
and Answer Sheet (FAQs) for survey respondents, here.
- Troy Blanchard,
Lee, & Edward Shihadeh, LSU Department of Sociology
- GIS (Geographical
Information Systems: computer mapping)
Kennedy, Architecture, Director of LSU’s CADGIS Lab
- John Pine, LSU
Department Geography, and Director of Disaster
Science and Management (emeritus)
Curtis & Jackie Mills, USC Department of Geography
in Other Areas