Perspectives of Faith-Based Relief Providers on Responding to the Needs of Evacuees Following Hurricane Katrina

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Hurricane Katrina was the third deadliest and most costly storm to the United States. Response by spiritual and faith communities played an important role in addressing the needs of evacuees displaced by the storm. The purpose of the current focus group study was to document perspectives from faith-based relief providers in Dallas, Texas responding to the needs of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Specifically, the study aimed to document (a) the roles played by faith-based relief providers in addressing the needs of Katrina evacuees relocated to Dallas; (b) faith-based relief providers’ views of the spiritual needs of evacuees; (c) the types of religious coping that faith-based providers reported evacuees used; (d) the types of religious coping responses that faith-based providers themselves used during their service provision for evacuees; and (e) inquire about how best to conduct research within religious settings following a disaster. Focus groups were conducted with 9 participants, 5 of whom were paid staff of either a church or a Catholic school, and the rest were faith-based volunteers. Findings from the current study suggest planning for, coordinating, and supporting the role of faith-based providers in partnering with both relief organizations and mental health providers to more effectively assist with future disaster response. In addition, future research is needed on coping responses of faith-based providers as well as logistics that help to effectively coordinate faith-based networks to function best in partnership with other secular and faith-based relief organizations.

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