Families and Faith-based Communities After a Disaster: Successes and Failures in the Wakes of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita


Coping, Natural disaster, Faith-based communities, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Qualitative research


The US Gulf Coast region experienced unprecedented destruction in the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In this chapter, we examine the role of faith-based communities in helping individuals and families cope with catastrophic property damage and storm-related displacement. Participants were current and former residents of two coastal parishes (counties) in south Louisiana. We focus on their responses to an open-ended question concerning the role of faith-based communities in helping them cope with the personal challenges they faced after the storms. Based on qualitative grounded theory methods and team-based coding, four emergent themes were identified: (1) The Hunger for Faith Community, (2) My Church Family Kept Me Going, (3) I Felt Like My Church Abandoned Me, and (4) Helping Others: Am I My Brother’s Keeper? These themes are presented along with numerous supporting and illustrative data excerpts. Implications of these narrative data for disaster preparedness and collaborative relief efforts after catastrophic disaster are considered.

Original Publication Citation

Marks, L., Hatch, T., Lu, Y., & Cherry, K., (2015). Families and faith-based communities after a disaster: Successes and failures in the wakes of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In K. Cherry (ed.), Traumatic stress and long-term recovery: Coping with disasters and other negative life events (pp. 247-270). New York: Springer.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Traumatic Stress and Long-Term Recovery




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Adjunct Faculty