Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill: Lessons learned about short‐term and long‐term effects

Joy D. Osofsky, Howard J. Osofsky
Published Online:
20 Nov 2020
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 56 Issue 1

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The impact and lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill are described as an example of work done reflecting best practices and theory to gain a better understanding of risk and resilience for children and families. Hurricane Katrina, described as the worst natural disaster in the US history, resulted in traumatic separations of children and families and devastation of communities and schools. The impact was greater on families with fewer resources before the hurricane who were provided limited support to return and rebuild. Insufficient community support and economic resources contributed to prolonged traumatiaation and slow recovery. Many were still recovering from Hurricane Katrina when impacted by the Gulf Oil Spill. For families with multigenerational ties to the fishing and oil industries, the Gulf Oil Spill resulted in both cumulative trauma and increased risk. In implementing the behavioural health response, much was learned about promotive and protective factors for individual and community resilience. Services provided following the disasters were based on precepts of individual, family, and community resilience. To enhance recovery and support resilience, the development of regional coalitions across at risk areas provides important coordination before disasters occur for better preparation and response.

© International Union of Psychological Science