Detail from "the second line," a painting by Bob Graham. For more about the artist, click here.

Online Program

Interviewing in Disaster-Affected Areas: Lessons Learned From Post-Katrina Surveys of New Orleans Residents

*Mollyann Brodie, Kaiser Family Foundation 
Claudia Deane, Kaiser Family Foundation 
Elizabeth Hamel, Kaiser Family Foundation 
Melissa Herrmann, Social Science Research Solutions 
Eran Ben-Porath, Social Science Research Solutions 

Keywords: natural disasters, New Orleans, sampling, weighting, interviewing, evacuees

This case study discusses lessons learned about post-disaster survey research from two methodologically challenging projects conducted in the wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The first was an in-person survey of New Orleans residents evacuated to Houston shelters, conducted only two weeks after the storm. This study involved a range of design and implementation challenges, from locating interviewers and gaining site access to adapting sampling plans in response to constantly changing circumstances on the ground. We next explore lessons learned in a series of three surveys of New Orleans residents conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2006, 2008, and 2010, a time when many neighborhoods were characterized by extensive devastation and there was a dearth of reliable external data about population demographics. The methodology of the surveys thus had to morph in reaction to the ground reality: The first survey, fielded one year after the storm, was an in-person, address based sample survey, but by three years after the storm, we were able to move to a mixed-mode survey with an address based sample, and five years after Katrina we fielded a dual frame telephone survey.

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