young cohort, Baton Rouge, emergent theme, coping resource, meaning making


Very few studies in the disaster literature include elderly adults, whose life experiences, perceptions, and spiritual needs in the post-disaster period may markedly differ in comparison to younger cohorts. In this 3, we address the topic of how young, middle age, older, and oldest-old adults coped with and made meaning of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita during the storms and their aftermath. The individuals who provided the qualitative interviews upon which this chapter is based were enrolled in the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS), a multidisciplinary study of the determinants of longevity and healthy aging (see Cherry, Silva, & Galea, Chapter 9 of this volume). We begin this chapter by presenting three central themes to contextualize our findings. These themes include (1) crisis, in the sense of a significant, developmental turning point (cf. Erikson E.H., 1998); (2) coping, a behavioral response to stressful events; and (3) meaning making, which pertains to an individual’s unique interpretation of an event and attributions for why it happened. We describe the sample, interview procedures, coding process, and emergent themes arising from the qualitative interviews. Implications for adjustment, acceptance, and personal growth in the post-disaster period are considered.

Original Publication Citation

Marks, L. D., Cherry, K., & *Silva, J. (2009). Faith, crisis, coping, and meaning making after Katrina: A qualitative, cross-cohort examination. In K. Cherry (ed.), Lifespan Perspectives on Natural Disasters: Coping with Katrina, Rita and other Storms (pp. 195-215). New York: Springer.

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Book Chapter

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Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor