Natural Disasters: An Assessment of Family Resiliency Following Hurricane Katrina


  • Maria Hackbarth, MS, Child and Family Therapist at ARC Community Services, Inc.; Thomas Pavkov, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Institute for Social and Policy Research, Purdue University Calumet; Joseph Wetchler, PhD, Professor and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Purdue University Calumet; Michael Flannery, MPS, Professor of Hospitality, Tourism and Management and Head of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, Purdue University Calumet.

  • Maria Hackbarth was a Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s of Science student at Purdue University Calumet during the time period that the research took place.

  • This work is supported by the Indiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy through their Graduate Student Research Award Grant. We would like to further acknowledge the Institute for Social and Policy Research at Purdue University Calumet for hosting the online survey.

Address correspondence to Maria Hackbarth, ARC Center for Women and Children, ARC Community Services, Inc., 1409 Emil Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53713; E-mail:


This study explored the role of family characteristics in the coping process of a family after having experienced Hurricane Katrina to gain an understanding of the relationship between family resiliency, hope, family hardiness, and spirituality for survivors of this natural disaster. It was hypothesized that families who demonstrate higher levels of hope, family hardiness, and spirituality would be more likely to effectively cope after the storm. Further, great resource loss was hypothesized to diminish a family’s ability to cope. Four hundred fifty-two participants completed the survey. Results indicate a relationship between hope, family hardiness and spirituality, and the criterion variable, family coping. The importance of these findings in terms of exploring family resiliency following a natural disaster is discussed.