Submitted to: Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2006
Publication Date: 1/24/2008
Citation: Bedimo-Rung, A.L., Thomson, J.L., Mowen, A.J., Gustat, J., Tompkins, B.J., Strikmiller, P.K., Sothern, M.S. 2007. The condition of neighborhood parks following hurricane katrina: development of a post-hurricane assessment instrument. American Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 5(1):45-57. Interpretive Summary: Extensive research has been conducted concerning the psychological and social effects of natural disasters on the public. However, very little research addressing an individual’s physical activity following a natural disaster has been conducted. Because parks provide an environment in which physical activity can take place, this study was conducted to develop an instrument that can assess park conditions following a natural disaster, such as a hurricane. Seventy New Orleans parks were measured three and six months post Hurricane Katrina using the newly developed instrument. The instrument revealed that improvements in the parks and their surrounding neighborhoods were occurring. Additionally, the instrument indicated that the most hurricane damage occurred in the least and most affluent areas of New Orleans. The ability to quickly and accurately measure the amount of damage occurring in parks following a natural disaster is vital to the subsequent cleanup and rebuilding of these parks, in addition to the well-being of neighborhood residents as they go about rebuilding their lives.
Technical Abstract: Parks provide environments for physical activity, yet, little is known about how natural disasters affect them or how these disasters alter physical activity. Objectives: 1) describe the development of an instrument to assess park conditions following a hurricane; and 2) document the conditions of New Orleans parks three and six months after Hurricane Katrina. Methods: A Post-Hurricane Assessment (PHA) instrument was developed and implemented in 70 parks three and six months post-hurricane. Results: Summary scores of the Park Damage Index and the Neighborhood Damage Index showed improvement between three and six months of data collection. Parks and neighborhoods most affected by the hurricane were located in the most and least affluent areas of the city. Conclusion: The PHA proved to be a promising tool for assessing park conditions in a timely manner following a natural disaster, and allowed for the creation of summary damage scores to correlate to community changes.