[8/30/21] – Preparing for Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the early hours of August 23rd, 2005. This anomalous weather event would eventually claim the lives of nearly 2,000 people and rendered much of the Gulf Coast city of New Orleans uninhabitable for months. In fact, many places in New Orleans would never recover from the devastation brought upon by Hurricane Katrina. As I type this message, a similarly strong storm, Hurricane Ida, approaches the “Crescent City ” and thousands of residents have been urged to evacuate and/or shelter in place. Ida comes at a time when COVID-19 cases – especially the Delta variant – are rising in the area. As most catastrophes do, like Hurricane Katrina and the COVID-19 pandemic, they reveal true divisions among human beings living in the United States. In the coming weeks, we will see stories of how social factors play into the experiences of those affected by this powerful storm. To start off this year’s Sociology Lecture Spark series, we examine a few of these social factors and explore their impact on communities affected by Hurricane Ida.

Key Concepts

KC 1: Discuss how the three primary sociological perspectives can be used to investigate unique aspects of the social consequences of natural disasters.

KC 2: Explain how environmental racism impacts how communities of color are disproportionately negatively impacted by catastrophe.

KC 3: Evaluate the efficacy and sustainability of existing social norms and social roles in the context of a natural disaster.


Louisiana Residents Make Preparations for Hurricane Ida

Urgent Evacuations Underway in Louisiana

Millions are preparing as Hurricane Ida gets closer to making landfall

Hurricane Ida: US Gulf Coast prepares for ‘dangerous’ storm

Hurricane Ida is on course to make landfall on the US Golf Coast, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes

Discussion Questions

How can the experience of preparing to survive a storm be influenced by the social class of the individual and/or their family? What options are available for those with access to resources like reliable transportation, discretionary income, and free time to prepare their home and belongings to avoid submersion and destruction? What options are available for those without resources?

How are social norms that govern social interaction and maintain a sense of stability in a community disrupted by disasters? Why might sanctions such as arrest for theft of food be waived during times of crisis? What new norms might emerge to preserve a sense of cohesion and order within a community impacted by disaster?

How might one’s role set be influential in determining their response to the disaster? Why might some people take to their boats and go house to house looking for people who need help while others do not? How might one’s socialization experience with their family, peers, media, and education cultivate a sense of duty to help others in some and relative selfishness in others?

Why might families continue to rebuild and restore their homes after experiencing tragedy related to catastrophe? Especially for families with deep history to the area, why might generations of families living in an area that could be – and has been – washed away in a weekend decide to stay there? Why might others move? Why are others forcibly displaced?

What is the role of environmental racism in causing non-White individuals and families to be more vulnerable to the harmful after-effects of natural disasters? Why are communities of color that exist on the brink of peril the least likely to receive infrastructure investment to preserve their existence? How do natural disasters reveal more about the true nature of social order for people of different races and ethnicities?



A sociologist using the _______ perspective would likely focus their attention on how individuals experience natural disasters and define their reality in the aftermath.

a.     Structural-Functionalist

b.     Conflict

c.     Symbolic-Interactionist

d.     Rational-Choice

A sociologist using the _______ perspective would likely focus their attention on how local and federal governments work to restore stability to communities affected by natural disasters.

a.     Structural-Functionalist

b.     Conflict

c.     Symbolic-Interactionist

d.     Rational-Choice

A sociologist using the _______ perspective would likely focus their attention on how lack of access to resources such as transportation, food and shelter, and discretionary income create disproportionately negative outcomes for people living in lower socioeconomic status communities.

a.     Structural-Functionalist

b.    Conflict

c.     Symbolic-Interactionist

d.     Rational-Choice

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/behindlens

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