Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, technological disaster, environmental devastation, cumulative adversity, BP oil spill


Relatively few studies in the research literature on technological disasters include commercial fishers whose livelihood, culture, and way of life are all deeply tied to bayous and natural waterways for generations. In this chapter, we address the impact of the 2010 British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil spill on commercial fishers sampled from two coastal parishes (counties) in south Louisiana. The individuals who provided the qualitative interviews upon which this chapter is based were participants in a larger study on long-term recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that devastated the US Gulf Coast in 2005. All respondents were exposed to the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the 2008 Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and most recently the 2010 BP oil spill. We begin with a brief review of the literature on the psychosocial impact of disasters and examine the related concept of cumulative adversity. Content analysis of qualitative data from interviews conducted at least 12 months after the oil spill yielded three emergent themes which we present here: (1) Troubled Present, Uncertain Future; (2) Environmental Devastation; and (3)The “Pileup” Effect After a Decade of Disasters. Implications for individuals and families who have been directly impacted by the BP oil spill are considered.

Original Publication Citation

*Lyon, B. A., Nezat, P. F., Cherry, K. E., & Marks, L. D. (2015). When multiple disasters strike: Louisiana fishers in the aftermath of hurricanes and the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In K. E. Cherry (ed.), Traumatic stress and long-term recovery: Coping with disasters and other negative life events (pp. 57-70). New York: Springer.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date







Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor