Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Urban Studies


Planning and Urban Studies

Major Professor

David Gladstone

Second Advisor

Monica Farris

Third Advisor

Guang Tian

Fourth Advisor

John Kiefer


After the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster, discussions of social and racial inequity in environmental justice became more significant. Flooding is the most destructive type of natural hazard in terms of property damage and economic loss throughout the United States. However, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has continuously faced difficulty in financing itself during climate change (GAO, 2019). Many New Orleans residents are seasonal victims of both hurricane-level disaster flooding and frequent repetitive flood loss due to heavy everyday stormwater runoff. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA; 2020) recommends freeboard elevation as the best form of hazard mitigation to reduce the cost of repetitive flood loss. However, only about 10% of New Orleans structures are adequately mitigated to freeboard standards (CHART, 2021). Underlying socioeconomic and geographical vulnerabilities have amplified the flood risk for the most disadvantaged communities. Accordingly, this study examined the city's latent historical inequality that has shaped its inequitable distribution of flood risk and mitigation. The study’s explanatory, sequential mixed methods identified the socioeconomic and geographical inequities that have hindered freeboard mitigation to reduce repetitive flood loss. As CHART lead graduate researcher, the research team analyzed more than 40 years of New Orleans’ NFIP flood claim data and over 140,000 properties data. Furthermore, we collected qualitative data from more than 130 stakeholders. The disparity in Katrina recovery funding between socioeconomic groups disproportionately offered economic support for freeboard mitigation to reduce repetitive flood loss. Environmental racism has created a geographical uneven resiliency between New Orleans’ affluent White and low-income Black neighborhoods. The dissertation's findings identify an environmental justice approach to equitable emergency management for shared resilience in New Orleans.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

Available for download on Monday, April 10, 2028