Loss, Chaos, Survival, and Despair: The Storm after the Storms


Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Natural disaster, Disaster mental health, Posttraumatic stress, Complicated grief, Long-term recovery, Qualitative research


The US Gulf Coast experienced catastrophic damage when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall in August and September of 2005. This chapter is based on narrative data obtained from directly affected coastal residents of south Louisiana in a mixed method study on post-disaster recovery conducted between 2010 and 2012. We focus here on the challenges participants faced in the aftermath of the storms, highlighting experiences they recounted after having lost property, homes, and communities in the 2005 hurricanes. Three themes emerged from qualitative analysis of the interview narratives, which present a somber and miserable experience in the aftermath of disaster. The themes include: (1) “I Don’t Want to Lose another Friend”: A Loss of More than Material Possessions, (2) “No Coping, Just Surviving”: Chaos and the Crushing Burden of Survival, and (3) “[Katrina] made me a Weaker Person”: Anguish and Despair after the Storms. These themes are presented with supportive excerpts and reflections from participants’ first-hand accounts. Implications for adjustment after disaster and future research on grief related to post-disaster losses are considered.

Original Publication Citation

Hatch, T., Cherry, K., Kytola, K. L., Lu, Y., & Marks, L. (2015). Loss, chaos, survival, and despair: The storm after the storms. In K. Cherry (ed.), Traumatic stress and long-term recovery: Coping with disasters and other negative life events (231-246). New York: Springer.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Traumatic Stress and Long-Term Recovery




Religious Education


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Adjunct Faculty