Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Mark Gordon


Emergency management policy is useful when it involves the stakeholders it serves in the decision-making process. The death toll for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was almost 2,000 people. Many of the dead and injured lived in low-income communities. There were significant challenges with the evacuation of residents of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Like many public policies, emergency management has evolved over time. Periodically, a catalyst event, such as Hurricane Katrina, shapes public opinion and eventually public policy and its administration. Punctuated equilibrium theory was used to examine the decision-making process of Ninth Ward residents to remain at home or to evacuate before Hurricane Katrina. Semistructured interviews were conducted to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of 15 participants who defied the evacuation order during Hurricane Katrina. Eight of the participants were women, and seven were men. Fourteen of the participants were Black or brown, and one participant was White non-Hispanic. Results indicated many barriers to the process of evacuation, including fears, trust, a false sense of security, and lack of resources. Most of the participants felt safer at home. The only facilitator of evacuation was information dissemination. Implications for positive social change include considering new strategies in emergency management that can alleviate barriers amd assuage the fears, reduce trust deficits, and tackle resource issues that residents experience during a disaster.

Included in

Public Policy Commons