A new project, funded by a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, will recruit Katrina survivors around the country to serve on the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group.
The group, numbering 2,000 survivors – half from New Orleans and half from other affected areas – will speak every three months by phone with trained interviewers who will solicit specific information as well as give the survivors an opportunity to tell their stories in an open-ended fashion. The information will appear in a series of online reports available to the general public.
“We plan to stay with this group over the next two years so that we can keep our fingers on the psychological pulse of this population,” said Ronald Kessler, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and one of the advisory group’s scientific collaborators.
Each interview will include a recorded oral history with descriptions of each advisory group member’s experiences during and after the hurricane in order to build a permanent archive that can be used by historians, policymakers, the press, and the public to understand the experiences of people who lived through Katrina. These recordings will be placed on the initiative’s Web site: http:// www.HurricaneKatrina.med.harvard.edu. Both oral histories and quantitative information will be collected and presented to policymakers.