Barriers to the long-term recovery of individuals with disabilities following a disaster. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examines how pre-existing disabling conditions influenced the recovery process of survivors of Hurricane Katrina. It focuses specifically on the barriers that hindered the recovery process in these individuals. Focus groups were convened in four Gulf Coast states with 31 individuals with disabilities who lived in or around New Orleans, Louisiana, prior to Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Qualitative data were analysed using grounded theory methodology. Five themes emerged as the most significant barriers to recovery: housing; transportation; employment; physical and mental health; and accessing recovery services. While these barriers to recovery were probably common to most survivors of the disaster, the research results suggest that disability status enhanced the challenges that participants experienced in negotiating the recovery process and in acquiring resources that accommodated their disabilities. The findings indicate that, when disaster recovery services and resources did not accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities, recovery was hindered. Recovery efforts should include building accessible infrastructure and services that will allow for participation by all.

published proceedings

  • Disasters

altmetric score

  • 4.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Stough, L. M., Sharp, A. N., Resch, J. A., Decker, C., & Wilker, N.

citation count

  • 56

complete list of authors

  • Stough, Laura M||Sharp, Amy N||Resch, J Aaron||Decker, Curt||Wilker, Nachama

publication date

  • July 2016