Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Kathryn A. Kozaitis

Second Advisor

Dr. Emanuela Guano

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Patico


This thesis examines how residents of the US Gulf Coast conceive of, prepare for, respond to, and recover from hurricanes, an environmental reality they face annually. The project employs personal narratives of hurricane survivors from coastal Mississippi and Louisiana, drawn from ethnographic interviews as well as historical accounts. Interpretation of museum exhibits, memorials, and displays of symbology and landmarks is also used. These data are analyzed through the literature of theory and findings on disasters, religious and secular responses to them, and human relationships to place. I conclude that Gulf Coast residents accept hurricanes as natural facts of life in an area to which they feel strong personal and community ties. They rely on experience and bonds formed by local and religious communities. Furthermore, hurricanes and survivor experiences are incorporated into self-identity and sense of place, familiarizing the storms while also maintaining awareness of them.