Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis



First Advisor

Susan L. Cutter


Governments and individuals have already spent several billion dollars, countless hours, political and emotional resources on recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Despite this major investment in the recovery on the U.S. Gulf Coast, there is little understanding of what actually affects a housing unit or community's ability to recover from a disaster or what determines the rate of recovery in time. This study uses building permits issued in the three coastal counties of Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina to track recovery of the built environment. This study provides insight into how recovery is progressing by investigating whether recovery is occurring evenly across the Gulf Coast or whether there are clusters of recovery. This study also demonstrates how damage caused by the storm is affecting the distribution of rebuilding in space and time, and the influence of federal aid on recovery through FEMA grants and SBA disaster loans.

This in-depth analysis of the building permit data uses several techniques to understand the progression of built environment recovery, including descriptive and non-parametric statistics, visual multivariate analysis with the VIS-STAMP software package, and the spatial scan statistic SaTScan. The results of these analyses show that recovery is not occurring evenly in space or time across the Gulf Coast. The level and extent of storm damage has a notable effect on the distribution and timing of reconstruction on the Gulf Coast. Federal funding, however, while correlating with the number of building permits issued on the coast is not directly influencing the rate or distribution of built environment recovery.