A descriptive study on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita evacuees participating in the Harris County Housing Authority Disaster Housing Assistance Program

Celisa Washington, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Natural disasters occur in various forms such as hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, outbreaks, etc. The most unsettling aspect of a natural disaster is that it can strike at any moment. Over the past decade, our society has experienced an alarming increase of natural disasters. How to expeditiously respond and recover from natural disasters has become a precedent question for public health officials. To date, the most recent natural disaster was the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti; however the most memorable was that of Hurricane Katrina (“Haiti Earthquake”, 2010). This study provides insight on the need to develop a National Disaster Response and Recovery Program which effectively responds to natural disasters. The specific aims of this paper were to (1) observe the government’s role on federal, state and local levels in assisting Hurricanes Katrina and Rita evacuees, (2) assess the prevalence of needs among Hurricanes Katrina and Rita families participating in the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) and (3) describe the level of progress towards “self sufficiency” for the DHAP families receiving case management social services. Secondary data from a cross-sectional “Needs Assessment” questionnaire were analyzed. The questionnaire was administered initially and again six months later (follow-up) by H.A.U.L. case managers. The “Needs Assessment” questionnaire collected data regarding participants’ education, employment, transportation, child care, health resources, income, permanent housing and disability needs. Case managers determined the appropriate level of social services required for each family based on the data collected from the “Needs Assessment” questionnaire. Secondary data provided by the H.A.U.L. were analyzed to determine the prevalence of needs among the DHAP families. In addition, differences measured between the initial and follow-up (at six months) questionnaires were analyzed to determine statistical significance between case management services provided and prevalence of needs among the DHAP families from initial to 6 months later at follow-up. The data analyzed describe the level of progress made by these families to achieve program “self sufficiency” (see Appendix A). Disaster assistance programs which first address basic human needs; then socioeconomic needs may offer an essential tool in aiding disaster affected communities quickly recover from natural disasters.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Washington, Celisa, "A descriptive study on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita evacuees participating in the Harris County Housing Authority Disaster Housing Assistance Program" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1480521.