Long term disaster response in the United States is usually a largely unorganized affair which causes the recovery process to be inefficient and unnecessarily delayed. Through a lack of coordination, oversight, and knowledge, recovery practices are not critically assessed during a crisis; and so, the same mistakes are repeated, delaying the chance for a sustainable recovery. In order to assess these practices, and to investigate the effectiveness of federal spending related to recovery efforts, this project involved researching the historical implications of long term recovery and performing an in-depth analysis of the Gulf Coast recovery after Hurricane Katrina. The lessons learned from history include the inefficiency of multiple leaders in the recovery, how small businesses find it difficult to benefit from federal loans, the effectiveness of comprehensive engineering programs to mitigate disaster hazards, and that disasters usually create a net loss in an economy despite all of the outside assistance. With these lessons in mind, I reviewed the data from the gulf coast for unemployment, port imports, and tax collections before and after the Hurricane. The relationship between the amount of federal money allocated to disaster recovery to the level of unemployment was highly negatively correlated (-.85), implying that the influx of federal dollars improved the level of employment. The relationships between tax collections and port imports with the federal dollars were both positive (.99 and .80 respectively) which implies that the federal funding resulted in increasing these numbers. Unfortunately, every indicator was different in time and speed in recovery which made general observations impossible. Future research into this topic should include assessing at what point financial assistance becomes less effective than its value would be when applied at another location.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2012


Sandy L. Hunter

Department/Professional Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars


Safety, Security, and Emergency Management