|African American Women's Networks
The findings summarized below are from a case study that emerged
from an ongoing research investigation into the Katrina Diaspora. This
research, conducted in central Missouri, where approximately 500 New
Orleans residents sought refuge after the storm, involved numerous
interviews with evacuees and social service personnel, observations of
community and church gatherings, as well as a series of detailed,
in-depth interviews with a smaller group of twenty evacuees. The
interviews were conducted between three and ten months after Hurricane
Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana on August 29, 2005. Questions
focused on better understanding the role of informal kin and friendship
networks, anchored by African American women, in facilitating timely
evacuation from the disaster zone.
Key Research Findings:
- The quick action of key
women in an informal network of African American family led to the
successful evacuation of 25 individuals who could not otherwise have
left the city.
- The African American women in this informal
network served as its anchors and were able to mobilize extended kin
because of existing resources and relationships.
distrust of police and civic authorities made certain members of the
network less likely to heed official evacuation warnings, additional
cautions from the network’s female anchors proved essential in getting
some individuals to evacuate.
- Although based on pre-existing ties (such as kinship, shared church
affiliation or neighborhood), the network easily expanded to include
other at-risk individuals.
- The women in this network not only
advised, but actively arranged for transportation, housing and other
things necessary for timely evacuation.
disaster planning should recall and make practical use of women’s
networking skills to help protect vulnerable populations or those who
might be distrustful of the police and other authorities.
Jacquelyn Litt, Chair and Associate Professor, Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Missouri at Columbia, (573) 882-0647, email@example.com.
1) Litt, Jacquelyn. 2008. “Getting Out or Staying Put: An African
American Women’s Network in Evacuation from Katrina.” NWSA Journal,
vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 32-48.
The SSRC Katrina Task Force oversees a range of research projects
on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and acts as a clearinghouse for
information emerging from those projects. For additional literature on
Hurricane Katrina see our Research Bibliography. For more information about the SSRC Katrina Task Force see the Katrina Hub or contact Siovahn Walker at
firstname.lastname@example.org. For other Research Bulletins see our Archive.