More than fifteen years later, Hurricane Katrina maintains a strong grip on the American imagination. The reason is not simply that Katrina was an event of enormous scale, although it certainly was by any measure one of the most damaging storms in American history. But, quite apart from its lethality and destructiveness, Katrina retains a place in living memory because it is one of the most telling disasters in our recent national experience, revealing important truths about our society and ourselves.
The final volume in the award-winning Katrina Bookshelf series Higher Ground reflects upon what we have learned about Katrina and about America. Kai Erikson and Lori Peek expand our view of the disaster by assessing its ongoing impact on individual lives and across the wide-ranging geographies where displaced New Orleanians landed after the storm. Such an expanded view, the authors argue, is critical for understanding the human costs of catastrophe across time and space. Concluding with a broader examination of disasters in the years since Katrina—including COVID-19—The Continuing Storm is a sobering meditation on the duration of a catastrophe that continues to exact steep costs in human suffering.
The Continuing Storm documents the cruel irony that perennially besets human disasters, whether the culprit is a hurricane named Katrina or a pandemic named Covid-19. The least among us seem always to suffer the harshest collective traumas, bearing an effect that repeats. This book is a must-read for everyone who wishes to understand and to respond effectively.
This beautifully written account by two preeminent disaster scholars takes readers on a journey that begins long before Hurricane Katrina, continues through its devastating impact on New Orleans, and explores its cumulative and lasting sociodemographic, economic, psychological, and related effects. An early harbinger of institutional failures yet to come, Katrina showed starkly how those institutions worked primarily for white, privileged, well-resourced groups and households, while leaving people of color, the marginalized, the poor, or survivors living in what were perceived as unconventional family arrangements, to fend for themselves. Above all, as its title indicates, the book shows in powerful detail that Katrina is not over for so many survivors who continue to struggle with repeated assaults on their physical and psychological well-being and on the social relationships that formed the bedrock of their identities. Erikson and Peek remind us that, like a gaping wound that refuses to heal, Katrina is still very much with us.
This is a wonderful book. It beautifully blends the clear-eyed analysis and elegant prose we expect from Kai Erikson with the state-of-the-art knowledge of disaster sociology that only Lori Peek can deliver. It’s precise, insightful, and powerful from beginning to end.
Kai Erikson is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Sociology and American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of Wayward Puritans, Everything in Its Path, A New Species of Trouble, and The Sociologist’s Eye.
Lori Peek is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is the author of Behind the Backlash, coauthor of Children of Katrina, and coeditor of Displaced and the Handbook of Environmental Sociology.
- I. A Hurricane Known as Katrina
- 1. Along the Shores of the Gulf
- 2. On the Streets of New Orleans
- II. Locating Katrina
- 3. In Time
- 4. In Space
- III. Katrina as Human Experience
- 5. Before: Seeking Out the Most Vulnerable
- 6. During: Being Battered by the Storm
- 7. After: The Pains of Displacement
- About the Authors
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