Shelter Life After Hurricane Katrina: A Visual Analysis of Evacuee Perspectives

November 2006 (VOL. 24, NO. 3)

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Nine survivors of Hurricane Katrina, who were residents in two Red Cross shelters, provided the researchers with a total of 90 Polaroid photographs of their lives in their respective disaster shelters. After they completed the photographic activity, they participated in semi-structured interviews about their individual photos. The following research questions were addressed to discover the emic (insider) perspectives of the shelter residents: a) what features of shelter life did the residents photograph and discuss; and b) what needs were evident in their photos and interviews? The results showed that the residents had particular needs related to a) privacy, b) interpersonal relationships, c) security, and d) outreach. The discussion covers recommendations for using visual research methodologies to understand the needs of shelter residents and suggests practical implications for shelter managers and other professionals serving those displaced by disaster.