Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the American Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. Biloxi, Mississippi, a small town on the coast, was one of the towns devastated directly by the storm. Drawing on ethnographic, media, and historic document research and analysis, Jennifer Trivedi explores the pre-disaster cultural, historical, social, political, and economic distinctions that shaped the recovery ofBiloxi and Biloxians. Trivedi examines how networks of people, groups, and institutions worked to prepare for and recover from the hurricane, reinforcing the distinctions that existed before the storm.
Jennifer Trivedi is assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and core faculty member of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware.
List of Figures
Introduction: Hurricane Katrina, Biloxi, and the Past
Chapter 1: Setting the Scene
Chapter 2: Hurricane History
Chapter 3: Hurricane Katrina
Chapter 4: Trying to Go Home
Chapter 5: Recovering Over the Long Haul
About the Author
Although it did not receive as much attention as New Orleans, Biloxi, Mississippi, suffered catastrophic damage from Hurricane Katrina—53 people lost their lives and 20 percent of the city was completely decimated. In the aftermath, 65,000 jobs disappeared and the population fell by roughly 8 percent. When trying to rebuild, residents faced massive infrastructure damage and higher insurance rates. Trivedi (Univ. of Delaware) assesses the role of "political economy" in mitigating people’s vulnerability and recovery in coping with natural disasters. Employing Katrina as a case study, she examines how Biloxi residents’ socioeconomic status and political power determined their risk to disaster and ability to recover from devastating events, both immediately after the event and years later. By interviewing several groups about their experiences pre- and post-Katrina, she found that those with the most political and economic influence not only made quicker recoveries, but also dictated the community-wide response and recovery to the disaster. Much of this group’s initial focus centered on efforts to maintain their power and influence. Understanding the power dynamic of disaster recovery is an important part of hazard mitigation, making this a much-needed study in the area of hazard mitigation. Summing Up: Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty.
Jennifer Trivedi, in Mississippi after Katrina, takes the reader to ground zero and ground level of Hurricane Katrina, documenting, through careful ethnographic and documentary research, the events in Biloxi, Mississippi, from the first warnings, to the trauma of the storm itself, through the immediate aftermath, and into the next decade of recovery. Trivedi captures the experiences, concerns, and drama of regular folks caught in an unprecedented disaster, while also framing those experiences within the larger structural issues of race, class, and inequalities of coastal Mississippi. It is a spellbinding and wholly timely analysis of how natural disasters are not always natural.