The Social Construction of Hurricane Katrina

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 11:45 AM
Room C107 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Michelle A. Dovil, NCAR, Washington, DC; and T. Adams-Fuller, T. Tyree, and C. Stroman

This study deconstructs the concept of an extreme weather disaster, by examining the pre-existing conditions of the city of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. An in-depth literature review provides an analysis of the issues of geological, social, and economic vulnerabilities and its direct impact on vulnerable populations. It is believed that if we are to understand disasters we must not only know about hazard risks, we must also be aware of the different levels of vulnerability of different groups of people (Wiser, 2003). This vulnerability is determined by social systems and power, not by natural forces (Wiser, 2003). In examining vulnerability we are able to distinguish what factors were due to the natural hazards and what factors were due to human conditions.