The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound
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The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound

Edited by Emily Chamlee-Wright and Virgil Henry Storr

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina posed an unprecedented set of challenges to formal and informal systems of disaster response and recovery. Informed by the Virginia School of Political Economy, the contributors to this study critically examine the public policy environment that led to both successes and failures in the post-Katrina disaster response and long-term recovery. Building from this perspective, this book lends critical insight into the nature of the social coordination problems disasters present, the potential for public policy to play a positive role, and the inherent limitations policymakers face in overcoming the myriad challenges that are a product of catastrophic disaster.
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Chapter 13: Improving Academics in the Aftermath: A Case Study of New Orleans’ Experiment with Charter Schools

Erin Marie Agemy


Erin Marie Agemy INTRODUCTION 13.1 In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina became the largest disaster in US history, causing severe destruction along the Gulf Coast from Texas to central Florida. The hardest hit city was New Orleans, largely due to their levee system catastrophically failing, which flooded most of the city, as well as large areas of neighboring parishes. Katrina left behind over one hundred billion dollars in property damage, displaced tens of thousands and killed over 1600 people. In Orleans Parish the flood waters lingered for weeks, contributing to the overwhelming destruction and uncertainty, which created a citywide collective action problem (Chamlee-Wright 2007, 2008; Chamlee-Wright and Storr 2009). As Chamlee-Wright and Storr (2009) describe, being the first to return meant investing in a largely risky venture, without the guarantee that others would follow suit to restore their community. Indeed, the decision of whether to return proved difficult to make with extremely limited knowledge about whether other neighbors would also return to rebuild their homes and businesses. As a result, a wait and see attitude rationally emerged, which can further delay the recovery process (Chamlee-Wright and Storr 2009). In this scenario how do people actually overcome the collective action problem in order to rebuild their city? Chamlee-Wright and Storr (2009, pp. 430–31) ‘stress the role that club goods play in helping communities overcome the collective action challenges associated with post disaster community recovery’ and that they ‘can be key for community redevelopment’. They specifically focus on the bundle...

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