This study consists of video interviews listening to the stories/experience of 7 African American survivors of Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans. It took place in March 2006, about 6 months after the disaster. The participants came from a range of financial circumstances and all were in some way still in transition and shock and not back in a ‘settled’ life. The interviewer found the participants very ready to relate their experiences so let that dictate the flow of the interview rather than use prepared questions. The phenomenological method was used focusing on the lived experience, the storytelling of those involved to explore themes that emerged. A Compassionate Listening model was adopted to offer non-judgmental deep listening from the heart. Video interviews were used to give voice to survivors so that they could express in depth their own experience and so it could be a resource to be shown to others to help them understand the situation.

The literature review revealed media reports falling back into fearful racial stereotypes and a wide division of understanding between black and white people polled on the slow government response and racism. This white researcher was fortunate to interview African American respondents and listen to their narratives and the meanings they attached to them, and reflect on how black historical memory may impact the present.

The research includes multiple experiences of surviving the storm and its aftermath. It explores themes such as fear, loss and stress; what coping strategies were used for survival; how did racism impact their experience either implicitly or explicitly.


Growth and Development | Public Policy | Social Welfare