Faith and Coping: Spiritual Beliefs and Religious Practices After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita


Natural disaster, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Religious practices, Spirituality, Coping, Resilience, Qualitative research


In August and September of 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita brought catastrophic destruction to the US Gulf Coast. In this chapter, we examine spiritual beliefs and religious practices as resilience resources for directly affected individuals coping with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita at least 5 years after the deadly storms. A total of 125 adults from two coastal parishes (counties) in south Louisiana participated in the study. All had experienced catastrophic property damage and storm-related displacement in 2005. This chapter focuses on current and former coastal residents’ responses to an open-ended question concerning whether religious beliefs and practices helped them cope with the challenges they faced after the storms. Qualitative grounded theory methods were employed to analyze these data. Using team-based coding, five emergent themes were identified, which we present with numerous supporting and illustrative data excerpts. We conclude this chapter by considering new insights on spiritual beliefs and religious practices, especially prayer, in coping with the immediate and long-term aftermath of two catastrophic hurricanes.

Original Publication Citation

Marks, L., Lu, Y., Cherry, K., & Hatch, T. (2015). Faith and coping: Spiritual beliefs and religious practices after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In K. Cherry (ed.), Traumatic stress and long-term recovery: Coping with disasters and other negative life events (pp. 369-388). New York: Springer.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Traumatic Stress and Long-Term and Recovery




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Adjunct Faculty