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Establishing and operating shelters after Hurricane Katrina

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On 29 August 2005 Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline, causing catastrophic damage and disruption to basic services across a large geographic area. Storm surge along the US Gulf Coast, coupled with damage to the levee system protecting New Orleans, severely damaged structures and blocked access to affected areas leaving more than one million persons displaced from their homes. Demands for food, medical supplies and other resources quickly overwhelmed government and relief organisations. In the hours and days that followed, hundreds of shelters were established to house evacuees across a multi-state area. This paper presents findings from a set of interviews conducted with the managers of 82 shelters in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Field data were used to identify, typologise, and evaluate the operation of emergency and temporary shelters from the perspective of the managers and volunteers.

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