Hurricane Katrina Community Aadvisory Group Survey Findings


  • Recollection of Evacuation preparations
  • Post-evacuation stressful experiences
  • Current practical problems and proposed solutions
  • Rating the helper agencies and organizations
  • Residential mobility plans
  • Post-traumatic stress reactions
  • Post-traumatic personal growth
  • The long-term perspective



  • Levels of mental illness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Harvard Medical School, through a grant by the National Institute of Mental Health, recruited 1,043 survivors of Hurricane Katrina to create the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group. The Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group is providing ongoing information to help monitor the pace of recovery of the more than two million families whose lives were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina.

This teleconference will be used to examine the first set of survey findings. The discussion will center on a baseline survey report issued to the National Institutes of Mental Health this week that covers several areas, including: participants' recollections of evacuation preparations, post-evacuation stressful experiences, current practical problems and proposed solutions, ratings of helper agencies and organizations, residential mobility plans, post-traumatic stress reactions, and post-traumatic personal growth.

The teleconference will also examine Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group mental health survey data to be published in an advanced online edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Members of the advisory group as well as study organizers will participate in the call.


Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D. Head of Survey Team Professor, Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School

Ronald Kessler is a sociologist and psychiatric epidemiologist. He was trained at Temple University, New York University, and the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Kessler is a Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School. He is also the Director of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative. Dr. Kessler's work focuses on psychosocial determinants and consequences of mental health problems. He is the recipient of many awards for his research, such as the Reme Lepuse award from the American Public Health Association and the Paul Hock Award from the American Psychopathological Association. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has been designated by the Institute for Scientific Information as the most widely cited researcher in the field.

Richard Powers, M.D. Associate Professor of Neurology and Pathology The University of Alabama at Birmingham

Richard E. Powers is a geriatric psychiatrist and a neuropathologist. He trained at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is currently the Medical Director for the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation as well as an associate professor in the Departments of Pathology and Psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. He trained in the office of the medical examiner in the State of Maryland and serves as a forensic neuropathology consultant to medical examiners in Northern Alabama. Dr. Powers has extensive experience in management of public mental health systems and services for persons with dementia and intellectual disabilities. He provided direct clinical care to Hurricane Katrina evacuees in central and southern Alabama during the sheltering phase and mental health services to evacuees located in longer term housing during the recovery phase. Dr. Powers serves on numerous regional and national boards for mental health services organizations. He has published in the fields of clinical psychiatry, experimental neuropathology and the application of forensic pathology to persons with disabilities.

Anthony H. Speier, Ph.D. Director of Disaster Mental Health Operations Louisiana Office of Mental Health

Anthony H. Speier is a clinical psychologist. He was trained at the University of Texas in Austin and Louisiana State University. Dr. Speier is the Director of Disaster Mental Health Operations for the Louisiana Office of Mental Health, in which capacity he is the principal contact for all federally funded crisis counseling programs addressing the emotional impact of hurricanes Katrina on Louisiana residents. Dr. Speier formerly served as the Director of the Division of Program Development and Implementation for the Louisiana Office of Mental Health. Dr. Speier also led the Office of Mental Health SAMHSA COSIG project and has been the principal investigator on a number of CMHS systems change grants focusing on issues specific to adults with severe and persistent mental illness. In his capacity as the State Director for Disaster Mental Health coordination and response activities, Dr. Speier has been the project director for nine federal crisis counseling grants following Presidentially Declared Disasters in Louisiana. He has served as Chair of the Adult Services Division of The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Dr. Speier is a practicing psychologist in Louisiana and holds a clinical appointment at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Speier has authored a number of publications and training manuals for the Center for Mental Health Services.

Robert J. Ursano, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Chairman, Department of Psychiatry Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Robert Ursano is a psychiatrist. He was trained at the University of Notre Dame, Yale University School of Medicine, Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, and the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Ursano is a Professor and the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland and the Director of the USUHS Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress. Dr. Ursano and his group are national leaders in public health policy planning for terrorism. His group has studied trauma and disaster in a wide range of populations and developed educational materials that have been widely disseminated to assist populations exposed to the September 11 attack, Hurricane Katrina, and other large-scale disasters. Dr. Ursano was a member of the National Academies of Science, Institute of Medicine, Committee on Psychological Responses to Terrorism, and the National Institute of Mental Health Task Force on Mental Health Surveillance after Terrorist Attack. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Department of Defense Humanitarian Service Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Traumatic Stress Society. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Psychiatrists, and the American College of Psychoanalysts. He is the Editor of the journal Psychiatry, the journal of interpersonal and biological processes founded by Harry Stack Sullivan. His Individual and Community Responses to Trauma and Disaster (Cambridge University Press) and his two-volume Terrorism and Disaster and Bioterrorism (Cambridge University Press) are among the most widely cited books in the field of trauma studies.

And community respondents who are members of the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group


Members of the press are also encouraged to listen to the voices of advisory group members via the group's oral history project. Oral histories can be found at

To participate in the teleconference, please call 617-432-0442 and reserve a spot. We will provide you with the call-in information and an embargoed copy of the baseline survey report and the paper from the Bulletin of the WHO. The baseline survey and the Bulletin of the WHO study are both embargoed until Monday, August 28 at 5:00 pm.


Please RSVP to obtain the call-in number and password, and embargoed media materials.

NOTE: The national teleconference is for registered media only. The information obtained prior to the call-in are embargoed until Monday, August 28, 2006, at 5:00 PM U.S. EDT.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Leah Gourley, 617-432-0442, [email protected]

Harvard Medical School has more than 5,000 full-time faculty working in eight academic departments based at the School's Boston quadrangle or in one of 47 academic departments at 18 Harvard teaching hospitals and research institutes. Those Harvard hospitals and research institutions include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, The CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Forsyth Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children's Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and VA Boston Healthcare System.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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