Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (2008)

Excerpt From Foreword

Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement is a special report by the Institute for Southern Studies and Southern Exposure, produced in collaboration with the Brookings-Bern Project on Internally Displaced Persons at the Brookings Institution.

Hurricanes and tsunamis have displaced people from their homes throughout history. Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in August 2005, was no exception. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as the hurricane made landfall and, a few hours later, as the levees of New Orleans were breached. In light of heavy criticism of the U.S. government's response to the Katrina disaster, studies have been carried out, congressional hearings have been held, and efforts have been made at all levels to examine what went wrong and to propose measures to ensure that future government responses can be more effective.

This study, published by the Institute of Southern Studies with support from the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, focuses on the government's response to those displaced by Hurrican Katrina through the lends of internal standards, specifically the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.


  • 3  Foreward
  • 5  Executive Summary
  • 6  The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Protecting the Human Rights of Disaster Victims
  • 8  U.S. Disaster Law
    • The Stafford Act Shortcomings With the Act and Its Implementation
  • 10  Hurricane Katrina and Displacement
  • 11  Protection from Displacement
    • Warnings Went Unheeded
    • Inadequate Coastal Protections
  • 13  Protection During Displacement
    • Discrimination Against the Poor and People of Color
    • Abandoning the Elderly and the Disabled
    • Improper Accommodations for IDPs
    • Special Problems for Women and Children in FEMA Trailer Camps
    • Property Rights at Risk
    • Discrimination Against Immigrant IDPs
    • Conditions for Prisoners and Detainees
    • Other Criminal Justice Abuses During Displacement
  • 20  Humanitarian Assistance
    • Politics in Aid Allocation
    • Private Contracting Abuses
    • Rejection of Aid From Foreign Governments
    • The Red Cross and Human Rights
  • 23  Return, Resettlement and Reintegration
    • The Affordable Housing Crisis
    • Obstacles to a Road Home
    • An Inadequate Standard of Living
    • Unequal Rights at Work
    • Denied a Voice in Recovery
    • Lack of Health Care Access
    • Public Health and Toxics
  • 28  Recommendations
  • 30  Appendix: Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
  • 35  Sources
Volume and Number: 
Vol. 35, Nos. 1 & 2

Since 1973 Southern Exposure has gained critical praise for its thorough investigations, unsentimental portraits of Southern life, and public interest reporting.