This paper examines the process of collecting data on New Orleanians affected by Hurricane Katrina. It does so by focusing upon the experiences of local researchers who were simultaneously conducting research on and within the disaster. It also documents one research team’s attempt to generate a random sample of residents from several New Orleans neighborhoods, stratified both by racial composition and level of damage. Further, it describes the challenges associated with navigating complex bureaucracies that are themselves affected by the disaster. Results demonstrate that our methods for drawing samples from six New Orleans neighborhoods yielded highly representative samples, even in heavily damaged neighborhoods where the long-term displacement required a multi-pronged strategy that involved contact by mail, telephone, and visits to local churches. The paper concludes by making recommendations for facilitating future research by locally affected researchers.
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