Location Matters? A Comparison of Placement Conditions for Hurricane Evacuees in Houston and Louisiana

November 2009 (VOL. 27, NO. 3)

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In the late summer of 2005, hurricanes Katrina and Rita inflicted overwhelming destruction causing residents in affected areas to evacuate and relocate to Houston and various parts of Louisiana. The purpose of this study is to examine how the residential environment and FEMA intervention have affected stress levels experienced by evacuees. Our research questions are: Are there socioeconomic and demographic differences between evacuees sent to Houston and those housed in FEMA trailer parks? How have hurricane evacuees experienced stress differently in Houston and Louisiana? And what factors affect levels of stress? The analysis uses survey data collected from 682 evacuees residing in Houston and various FEMA parks in Louisiana. Our findings highlight the importance of proper planning for evacuations after natural disasters such as hurricanes, including a better understanding of the environment at the place of destination for the evacuees. While evacuation from one’s home causes unavoidable stress, the manner by which evacuations are executed have much to do with the magnitude of stress.