The Post-Katrina Model

Based on our interviews with residents who returned to New Orleans after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina, we found that New Orleans rebounded because of hardworking residents who came together to rebuild their neighborhoods. As people affected by these wildfires begin the long path to recovery, it will be vital to allow the hardworking and enterprising residents who seek to rebuild and sustain their community do so.

Over the past few weeks, over 30 wildfires have ignited in California, Utah, Nevada and other western states. In Big Sur, the wildfire has destroyed over 50 homes and threatens thousands more. Residents have been forced to evacuate and firefighters have been working around the clock to tame the flames.

The remainder of fire season is predicted to have above-average activity in the west, due to high temperatures and dryness. The potential for further damage from wildfire comes at a time when disasters are increasing in frequency and strength. As communities attempt to prepare for such disasters, which are necessarily devastating and uncertain, it may be difficult for some to imagine how communities can recover at all. Yet, amazingly, we've witnessed the determination of city after city all over the world rebound after major disasters.

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005, many doubted the city of New Orleans would survive. The storm and subsequent flooding caused over 1,800 deaths, displaced over 400,000 residents and resulted in over $100 billion in damage. Residents were restricted from returning to their homes for months, not knowing what remained if and when they did.

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