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Durham, N.C. - Duke faculty from a variety of disciplines offer their perspectives on some of the issues and challenges that still exist as the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches. Katrina struck New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005.
-- REPOPULATION OF NEW ORLEANS
-- LINGERING HEALTH ISSUES AFTER KATRINA
-- MENTAL HEALTH AFTER KATRINA
-- GUIDEBOOK OFFERS MODEL FOR DISTRIBUTING RELIEF FUNDS
-- IMPROVING HOUSING IN LOUISIANA
-- BUSH ADMINISTRATION INCOMPETENCE DURING KATRINA, 9/11
-- IMPERILED WETLANDS AND THEIR VALUE
-- SHOULD WE REBUILD BEACHFRONT COMMUNITIES?
-- HOW TO PROTECT NEW ORLEANS IN THE FUTURE
-- LOUISIANA RECOVERY EFFORTS
-- ARE NATURAL DISASTERS PUNISHMENTS FROM GOD?
REPOPULATION OF NEW ORLEANS -- Jacob Vigdor, associate professor of public policy and economics, observes that before Hurricane Katrina struck, much of New Orleans' population was held in place by two forces: inertia and the lure of relatively inexpensive houses that have since been wiped away. It was a city of convenience rather than opportunity. Will former residents return even though they may have no clear economic rationale for doing so? Past experiences, and the results of the first year's worth of recovery efforts, point toward an answer of "no." He can be reached at (919) 613-9226 or email@example.com.
LINGERING HEALTH ISSUES AFTER KATRINA --- Health threats from ahurricane linger long after the storm waters recede. Marie Lynn Miranda, an associate research professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and director of Duke's Children's Environmental Health Initiative, has used Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to create a special, Web-based Hurricane Response Portal that maps and identifies potential health hazards facing communities in the wake of major hurricanes. After Katrina, Miranda and her team mapped locations in the New Orleans area where high levels of toxic mold presented special dangers to residents and rescue workers. She can be reached at (919) 613-8023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MENTAL HEALTH AFTER KATRINA -- Dr. Richard Weisler, a Duke University Medical Center psychiatrist, says a critical shortage of primary care doctors, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals in the Gulf Coast region is preventing thousands of people from getting needed mental health care, which may lead to long-term problems for many. "There are serious health consequences when people don't get the right treatment for a mental health problem in time," he says. "The longer these people go without the attention they need, the higher the rate and severity of depression, anxiety, psychosis, and substance abuse. Care providers in this region are overloaded due to patient volume which, combined with an overall shortage of psychiatric facilities and financial resources, is keeping many patients from getting the help they need." Weisler is co-author of a commentary on this subject that appeared in the Aug. 2 issue of JAMA, and can be found at http://jama.ama-assn.org/. To reach Weisler, call Tracey Koepke at (919) 660-1301.
GUIDEBOOK OFFERS MODEL FOR DISTRIBUTING RELIEF FUNDS -- Following Katrina, billions of dollars in relief flowed into the Gulf Coast region, but the distribution of those funds to the people who need them has been slow, complicated, unfair and inefficient, says Jenni Owen, director of policy initiatives at the Center for Child and Family Policy. A guidebook that Owen co-authored, called "Reaching Out to Those In Need: A Guide to Establishing a Successful Disaster Relief Fund," recounts the steps taken to manage the more than $20 million in donations to the relief fund established in the wake of North Carolina's 1999 Hurricane Floyd. Owen, who played a key role in establishing and carrying out the distribution process for the funds, is available to discuss the keys to managing and distributing a rapid influx of dollars during a disaster. Her step-by-step guide -- complete with sample forms, press releases and other templates -- has been used by other states to establish post-disaster relief funds. She can be reached at (919) 613-9271 or email@example.com.
IMPROVING HOUSING IN LOUISIANA -- Duke was recently awarded an EPA grant that will support students in their efforts to improve the durability of houses in storm-prone areas of Louisiana. "The goal of the project is to assist residents of the Gulf Coast area by attempting to identify relevant technologies that show promise for improving the durability, affordability and accessibility of housing," saYS David Schaad, assistant chair of civil and environmental engineering and faculty adviser to the project. Last spring, Schaad organized a multi-disciplinary, service-oriented course at Duke called "Natural Catastrophes: Rebuilding from Ruins" that followed the life cycle of a natural disaster, including how societies plan for and/or respond to the physical, social, emotional and spiritual issues associated with survival. More than 100 students enrolled in the course, and a majority of them spent their spring breaks participating in the cleanup and rebuilding effort in St. Bernard Parish. He can be reached at (919) 660-5174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUSH ADMINISTRATION INCOMPETENCE DURING KATRINA, 9/11 -- As significant anniversaries for Katrina and Sept. 11 approach, historian William Chafe says the two events will be remembered as moments that define the Bush administration as incompetent. "Looking back, Katrina and Sept. 11 will be bookends for an administration that has failed to appreciate and respond effectively to the information it receives," says Chafe, a former president of the Organization of American Historians. Chafe is currently drafting the sixth edition of his book "The Unfinished Journey: America Since WWII," which will include events up through Katrina. "Both disasters were marked by failure to appropriately deal with intelligence," Chafe says. "With Sept. 11, you had the Aug. 6 memo warning of terrorist plans to hijack airplanes that was ignored. With Katrina, you had a National Weather Service report delivered to the White House the night before the hurricane hit. In both cases, the officials responsible for handling the information resigned, but neither George Tenet nor Michael Brown was an aberration in the Bush administration. The administration as a whole was characterized by an inability to identify the seriousness of a situation and then respond decisively and effectively." He can be reached at (919) 684-5436 or email@example.com.
IMPERILED WETLANDSAND THEIR VALUE -- Curtis Richardson, a professor of resource ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and director of Duke's Wetland Center, has studied wetlands loss in environmental hotspot worldwide, including southern Louisiana and Iraq's Mesopotamian Marshes. "Both the Iraqi marshes and the Gulf Coast wetlands have sustained their nations with seafood and gas and oil, as well as protected the people who live there from flooding and other natural and manmade perils. But they are not given very much value." He can be reached at (919) 613-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHOULD WE REBUILD BEACHFRONT COMMUNITIES? -- "You just cannot justify massive building and rebuilding near the most dangerous property in the United States," says Orrin H. Pilkey Jr., a professor emeritus of geology who directs Duke's Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. Pilkey and program associate director Andrew S. Coburn -- who took startling photographs of Katrina's wrath during an overflight of the Gulf region -- have long warned of the pitfalls of construction in dynamic, ever-changing beachfront environments, often located on barrier islands that actually migrate in response to storms and rising sea levels. Pilkey can be reached at (919) 684-4238 or email@example.com; Coburn at (919) 684-2206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO PROTECT NEW ORLEANS IN THE FUTURE --- When decisions are being made on how best to rebuild and protect New Orleans, officials need to consider future climate change scenarios, such as sea level rise and increased storm intensity, says Jonathan Wiener, a professor of law and environmental policy. Wiener has written widely on U.S. and international environmental law and risk regulation, including numerous articles, and is co-author of the 2003 book "Reconstructing Climate Policy." He can be reached at (919) 613-7054 or email@example.com.
LOUISIANARECOVERY EFFORTS -- James A. Joseph, leader in residence for Duke's Hart Leadership Program, is the chair of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation. He is available to discuss the work of the foundation, including the grants it is making and how they will affect the state. At Duke, Joseph teaches a "Leadership as a Moral Activity" course. He is a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and a native of southwest Louisiana. To reach Joseph, call (919) 613-7321.
ARE NATURAL DISASTERS PUNISHMENTS FROM GOD? -- James L. Crenshaw, Robert L. Flowers professor of Old Testament at DukeDivinitySchool, has written extensively about the issue of theodicy -- human effort to justify the puzzling ways of the gods or God. He can be reached at (919) 660-3413 or firstname.lastname@example.org.