“THAT WAS MY COMMUNITY”: A QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION OF RECOVERY COMMUNICATION AND THE CULTURE OF COMMUNITY WITHIN THE DIASPORA OF SURVIVORS FROM HURRICANE KATRINA
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In 2005, the Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston (SKRH) project formed in response to the largest sudden diaspora in United States history, which drove residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama into the Houston area. Within the SKRH framework, survivor-narrators and survivor-interviewers engaged as experts in collective learning and co-creation of new cultural knowledge by participating in social therapeutic communities (TCs) through survivor-to-survivor (S2S) unstructured interviews. Recorded, coded, and archived, these stories became a means to create new community and cultural understanding during recovery helping victims cope and heal through social connection. In this essay, I engage a qualitative culture-centered approach utilizing narrative inquiry of the SKRH interviews. I investigate what we, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, grassroots organizations, non-profits, NGO’s, corporations, government agencies, healthcare providers, social workers, therapists, et al., can understand about the unique culture of survivor community created by and for victims of natural disasters. In addition, I examine the magnitude of the survivors’ losses, how to be culturally sensitive to their comprehensive needs, how to actively and culturally listen to shared narratives, how to engage in best practices for post-crisis recovery communication, and how to help survivors regain a sense of community and support during rebound, recovery, and rebuilding cycles.