Katrina 10 Years Later: Disaster Recovery and the Political Economy of Everyday Life

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast of the United States. The storm surge, coupled with the levee breaches and flooding that followed, devastated New Orleans, Louisiana. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, and neighborhoods broken apart. In the ten years that followed, the people of New Orleans have shown that they are resilient. Through dedication and entrepreneurial spirit, the people of New Orleans have found ways to encourage their neighbors to return, rebuilt their schools, clinics, and restaurants, and revived their community. 

The scholars associated with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University embarked on an expansive and extensive study of the recovery of New Orleans, including conducting hundreds of interviews with community leaders, entrepreneurs, and residents. In a recent essay and video, Peter Boettke reflected on this study, and the incredible lessons we learned from people of New Orleans, including that:

“Several important lessons flow from our studies, including:

  1. the nested nature of the private, public and social sectors cannot be ignored;

  2. initial conditions in the private, public, and social sectors determine the resiliency of the communities;

  3. individuals and communities are far more robust and resilient than existing theories of cultural dependency predict;

  4. commercial society provides the social space for the building of effective social capital and civil society;

  5. self-governing democracies operate best when government organization follows the principle of subsidiarity and gives priority to local governance over state and national policy initiatives.”