Katrina Displacement Took Major Psychological Toll On Some Moms

In the decade following Hurricane Katrina, much has been made of New Orleans residents’ resilience and growth. For some, especially for those of means, this rings true. But for others who haven’t been able to return to New Orleans, unstable housing and the stress of relocation have wrecked havoc on their mental health.

In addition to the 1,800 people who died during the storm and the resulting flooding after the levies broke, more than 1 million people were displaced from their homes after Katrina. Many of the people who haven’t been able to return to New Orleans are black, a phenomenon that Kristina Kay Robinson wrote about in the Nation in August:

For white families in the new New Orleans, the median income has grown at triple the rate of black families’ income. It’s no wonder many are insistent that New Orleans is back and better than ever. There are roughly 100,000 fewer black people in the metro area. Old people out; new people in. It is critical not to cede the story at its crossroads.

Research has found that low-income African-American moms faced unique challenges after the storm. Things like feeling unwelcome in a new community or lacking resources or stable housing have a psychological toll. And one study found that when it comes to emotional stress, moms who couldn’t come back fared worse than the moms who could.

Stable Housing Directly Affected Mental Health After Katrina

Elizabeth Fussell, an associate professor of population studies at Brown University, looked specifically at how low-income African-American mothers who were displaced from New Orleans fared during the years immediately following Katrina. In her study on the mental health outcomes of these moms, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine last year, she found that —> Read More