Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Emergency and Disaster Management

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Randall Cuthbert


Socially vulnerable populations suffer greater losses and have more difficulties recovering when disasters occur. Hurricane Katrina, systems of social inequity, as well as the governments’ preparedness and response failures turned a natural disaster into a social catastrophe. This research seeks to understand the challenges faced by the elderly, impoverished, disabled, and minority communities before a disaster strikes so as to identify the means required by emergency planners to develop more effective and inclusive emergency operations plans. Hurricane Katrina exposed government failures at every level of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. These critical flaws must be addressed so as to prevent similar catastrophic outcomes. The concluding section addresses recommendations the emergency management and disaster planning community must take to assist and protect special needs residents. Developing solutions and reducing gaps in emergency planning will save lives.



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