Research Article Critique
SOC 333: Research Methods
In 2011, examining the matters of homeland security and emergency
management, authors B.R. Lindsey and T. Settles wrote an article titled
Crime in Post-Katrina Houston: The Effects of Moral Panic on Emergency
Planning. Nearly 12 years ago in 2005, Hurricane Katrina killed thousands
of people and destroyed all in its path as it ripped through the Gulf Coast
States from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Mobile,
Alabama (www.foxnews.com). Among the death toll, the Louisiana Department
of Health reported 1,464 deaths from Katrina as the majority of deaths came
from the New Orleans Metropolitan area (www.foxnews.com). The Mississippi
Department of Health reported 238 deaths and the states of Alabama,
Georgia, and Florida suffered fatalities on a smaller scale; approximately
770,000 were displaced (www.foxnews.com). The United States reeled from its
most devastating urban disaster
mericans will long remember 2005 as the year Hurricane Katrina ripped
through the Gulf Coast states, killing thousands and destroying everything
in its path.
Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures on the Mississippi
Delta, as the United States was reeling from its most devastating urban
recent history recent history (Herring, C. and Rosenman, E. 2016).
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Millions of people from New Orleans, Louisiana who were displaced looked to
Houston, Texas for shelter.
In their article, Settles and Lindsey sought to uncover the factual truths
concerning the issues relative to the displaced Katrina people, also
referred to as evacuees. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were
employed by the two as they implemented mixed method procedure. Initially,
the city of Houston, by and large, seemed to welcome those from Katrina
with open arms with donations of food, water, shelter, clothing and other
necessities in effort to make the evacuees feel as if they found home in
their new city. However, when the crime rate rose in Houston, it was
attributed to these evacuees. Hence, the people of Houston wanted the
citizens of Katrina to leave. Police reports were obtained for use as
quantitative data. Comparisons were made concerning the criminal activity
before the Katrina evacuees arrived in Houston and after they had been
there. Data reflected crimes had become more of a problem since the
evacuees arrived. The major crimes included in the reports were “murder,
rape, aggravated assault, burglary, burglary of motor vehicles, auto theft,
and robbery” (Settles, T. & Lindsay, B.R.). Despite the fact major
criminal activity was already occurring in Houston, the Katrina evacuees
were blamed for the increase of crime in town. Since the mixed method
approach was implemented here, qualitative data was also used in effort to
obtain information which would reflect more than percentages and numbers.
Mass confusion arose from the matter of who bore responsibility for the
evacuees’ housing reimbursement and safety of the community they were to
live. By way of qualitative research, interviews were conducted with the
New Orleans people and media. After cross-examinations occurred, the
researchers determined the accounts given did not match each other. The
mixed method data approach thus came into play. Research revealed that
billions of dollars had been issued by the government to aid the Hurricane
Katrina victims, but the victims received none of that money. FEMA,
otherwise known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was supposed to
reimburse the city for the market value of rented apartments. While FEMA
paid the money, the hands of the evacuees were tied in terms of them trying
to find apartments within the limited range specified; residents could not
exceed the value nor could they afford to cover the costs out of pocket.
Thus, they had to search for residence in lower income communities with
higher crime volume. FEMA neglected to disclose information concerning the
evacuees who rented these apartments, and they also failed to complete
searches of local, state and national databases to see whether or not any
evacuees were wanted for crimes committed back in Louisiana. The processed
data came from information pre and post Katrina. The aim of the hypothesis
was to identify exactly what occurred pre and post Katrina in Houston to
see whether or not the criminal activity stemmed from the natives of
The qualitative research entailed interviews of Katrina evacuees by the
researchers; over 450 newspaper articles were also reexamined. After all
was said and done in terms of the research conducted, the documentation and
the numbers did not match. By way of the quantitative data approach,
researchers discovered crime did increase when Katrina evacuees moved to
Houston. However, the increase was not substantial enough to prove it was
the direct result of the evacuees being in Houston.
The information reported did not line up with the data gathered from video,
newspapers, and interviews. If FEMA covered the costs for evacuees to find
shelter, why did crime spike since they were provided shelter? This was the
question asked. So, it made little sense because the criminal activity rate
shouldn’t have increased with the provision of shelter. Crime should have
decreased or remained level if the personal needs of the evacuees were met.
The funds seemed to go to government officials rather than the evacuees.
The government created and manifested a moral panic for the media to
present Katrina evacuees as “folk devils proliferated” (Settles, T. and
Lindsay, B.R.).Researchers began to recognize these victims were not
devils in disguise, but displaced people who lost all they had after years
of labor. “The quantitative approach allowed some determining about whether
there were, in fact, differences in a selection of criminal offences. This,
in turn, would allow for some informed statements concerning whether the
conditions for moral panic were present” (Settles, T. & Lindsay, B.R.).
On a qualitative research level, items such as journals, newspapers,
and videos were collected on the individual lives affected by the Katrina
disaster. The Genuine essence and sentiment of the Katrina evacuees
captured by means of one-on-one interviews and continual research which
contributed to impartial analysis. Information gathered by way of law
enforcement database during the time after Hurricane Katrina reflected that
the evacuees were not in Houston to cause trouble, but to find a new
location to make their home. The capacity to collect this information
demonstrates the gratitude felt by the Katrina victims for being welcomed
to Houston with open arms. Also, it represents compassion and empathy shown
towards Katrina victims from Houston people. The release of 3000 parolees
caused an undesirable and continued impact of crime and violence initially.
Government officials were caught off guard by this and thus unprepared for
the allegations from Houston citizens. The chief objective of Louisiana
government officials evacuate all inhabitants safely – regardless of their
past. Even though the spike in crime rates was enough to be noticed (based
on the parolees allowed to live in Houston who were undetected) the impact
was not substantial. FEMA did place the evacuees in a tight spot because
the temporary housing they established, at a range of somewhere between
$600 and $900, was located in Houston’s low income areas. So, the evacuees
had to deal with living in neighborhoods already saturated with crime.
Quantitative data will display true meaning, but, statistics will bare true
facts likewise. The researcher may generalize or draw an inference to the
population based on sample results (Creswell, 2014). During quasi-
experiments, the investigator does not use random assignment of
participants to groups; he/she implements control and experimental groups.
The effectiveness of pre-testing, pilot testing, or field-testing a survey
helps to effectively determine “the specific type of experiment, such as a
pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, true experiment, or single-subject
design and allows the researcher to draw a figure to illustrate the design,
using the appropriate notation” (Creswell, 2014).
Impartiality is the key when conducting research. On an ethical level,
discrimination should be avoided at all costs when necessary and
applicable. The importance pertinent to the study referenced in the article
is relative to the Houston citizens’ moral concern over the increase of
The significance of utilizing questions helps the reader better comprehend
data in order to support or dismiss a premise constructed to perpetuate the
research. Settles and Lindsay used their article to evaluate the value of
the research. Based on the totality of research conducted relative to
Katrina , author E. Fussell stated that “The destruction of housing
displaced hundreds of thousands of residents for varying lengths of time,
often permanently. It also revealed gaps in our knowledge of how population
is recovered after a disaster causes widespread destruction of urban
infrastructure and housing” (Fussell).
In concluding, it can be stated, as evidenced by the methods utilized, that
strengths and weaknesses may be found during mixed methods data research.
The negative can be taken with the positive or transformed into the
positive. A good combination of qualitative and quantitative data may be
merged to generate concrete results. Overall, seeking the truth has more
meaning to any article written by researchers. There is high value to
informing the public of truth rather than fabricated pretense. While
Houston crime continues to be monitored a decade later, it could be a mere
result of society integrating with different aspects such as drug-
trafficking with increased poverty levels and low employment rates it is
human instinct to survive by any means necessary. Despite the inside
corruption of funds, based on the research conducted, government entities
are utilizing the data to establish better programs to assist Hurricane
Katrina victims and evacuees. Good things can and will happen when the
government and the people cooperate in a positive manner. It is important
to bear in mind that investigators use research so that the lies and truth
are both exposed.
Settles, T., & Lindsay, B. R. (2011). Crime in post-Katrina Houston: The
effects of moral panic on emergency planning. Disasters, 35(1), 200-219.
Herring, C., & Rosenman, E. (2016). Engels in the Crescent City: Revisiting
the Housing Question in post-Katrina New Orleans. ACME: An International E-
Journal For Critical Geographies, 15(3), 616-638.
Creswell, John W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed
Methods Approaches, 4th Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc., 03/2013.Vitalbook
Fussell, E. (2015). The Long-Term Recovery of New Orleans’ Population After
Hurricane Katrina. American Behavioral Scientists, 59(10),1231-1245.