In the Eye of the Storm

This report provides a thorough account of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's response to the 2005 Gulf States' disasters following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. RWJF took action in the days following Katrina, committing several million dollars to disaster relief through expedited grantmaking, and forming a dedicated response team to manage the grantmaking process related to relief efforts. RWJF staff, grantees and partner organizations offer firsthand accounts of their attempts to alleviate the burden, stress and isolation that proceeded in the hurricane's aftermath.

“I still vividly recall the conversation John Lumpkin and I had the morning after the levees broke about what we should do to help with this unprecedented crisis,” says Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., RWJF CEO and president. “The Foundation's commitment didn't, and hasn't, ended with immediate relief. We made a long-term commitment to rebuilding that primarily focuses on three different approaches—targeting health care issues in which we have some expertise, including mental health and information systems; informing how to rebuild; and then being a part of a larger collaborative that is making an ongoing investment in the rebuilding itself.”

In May 2006, the Katrina Response Team conducted a site visit to New Orleans. For the majority of the team, it was the first time they witnessed the situation on the ground and their first opportunity to evaluate the Foundation's role in the long-term recovery process. This special report includes accounts from Foundation staff and grantees as they continue to contribute to the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.