Second Wind: The Impact of Hurricane Gustav on Children and Families Who Survived Katrina

The category 2 Hurricane Gustav made landfall on the Louisiana Coast on Sept. 1, 2008, nearly three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina, resulting in an evacuation of approximately 2 million people and considerable property damage. Although it did not match the intensity or consequence of Hurricane Katrina, the experience of anticipating and responding to Hurricane Gustav had the potential to trigger emotional and physical consequences among a population previously traumatized or displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Gustav also had the potential to exert a considerable impact upon the overall economic, social, and emotional recovery of these populations. The Gulf Coast Child and Family Health Study (G-CAFH), a randomly-sampled post-Katrina longitudinal cohort study of 1,079 displaced and impacted households in Louisiana and Mississippi, was uniquely positioned to examine the evolving impact of Gustav upon a previously traumatized population. G-CAFH researchers were in the final stages of the third round of interviews with the study group when Hurricane Gustav struck, thus allowing for comparable pre- and post-event data for approximately 700 respondent households. Further information on the study, including previous reports and peer-reviewed research articles, may be found at In particular, the research team was interested in the following issues: Evacuation: People’s response to the event itself — did they evacuate, and if so, where and how did they evacuate? How did people decide whether to evacuate or not? For those who did, what was the economic impact of the evacuation? Recovery Impact: What was the impact on post-Katrina recovery amongst this group, particularly since Hurricane Gustav may have set some people even further back in their efforts to recover their homes and their lives? Psychological Impact: What was the emotional impact on adults and children: among adults, did Hurricane Gustav trigger Katrina-related post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms? Among children, did Hurricane Gustav lead to newly experienced behavioral or emotional problems? Health Effects: What were the health consequences of Hurricane Gustav on children, particularly those who needed access to medications and medical care? Within three weeks of Hurricane Gustav, the G-CAFH field team had reassembled after their own evacuation and begun re-contacting the 718 respondents whom they had recently interviewed as part of the third round of the study. Of these 718 respondents, 528 were located and interviewed (a 73.5% retention rate). Respondents received a $20 gift card for participating in this study supplement, which had received approval by the Columbia University Medical Center Institutional Review Board.

Natural Disaster
Children & Disasters
Vulnerable Populations
Disaster Recovery