When You Can’t Go Home - the Gulf Coast 10 Years After Katrina

This issue brief by the Center for American Progress discusses how climate change and extreme weather events are contributing to an increase in the displacement of Americans from their homes and communities. The article reviews the impacts of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 including the effects of displacement of 1.5 million people in the region; and describes the thousands more people that have been displaced by other extreme weather disasters. The analysis recommends several steps that policymakers can take to find and assist climate-displaced people, highlighting the compounded impacts on vulnerable populations. Statistics are given for Hurricane Katrina and each of the 10 years following, including details on other extreme weather events and the estimated numbers of evacuees per event. Events listed show that thousands of people were forced from their homes due to flooding events in each of the past 10 years.

The article suggests that support for the most economically vulnerable populations is key to helping the community regain its identity, and economic footing. Displacement is more dire when low-income individuals must evacuate as their homes may suffer greater damage - because they were less climate resilient in the first place.

The brief offers the following recommendations:

Better understand approaches that can alleviate displacement, or the hardships associated with displacement. 

  • Climate resilience
    : The best way to prevent climate displacement is to increase climate resilience.
  • Temporary housing: City and state evacuation plans should consider temporary housing options as part of an extreme weather exodus.
  • Voluntary buyout programs: After a disaster, voluntary buyout programs can be more cost effective than other climate protections and, if well designed, can restore vulnerable coastal properties as natural areas that provide natural buffers and reduce flood risks for nearby properties.
  • Return people to their homes: Local, state, and federal governments should consider a variety of options to get people back into their homes as quickly as possible - for example through programs that enable fast repairs to make homes habitable again.
  • Data collection: Governments should make greater efforts to track and locate the climate displaced. This information can be used to more efficiently direct necessary health benefits, disaster assistance, or other public benefits for populations uprooted from their homes.


Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Danielle Baussan

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Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Assessment
  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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