Women of the Storm: A Balance of Powers


  • Emma Rosenthal Tulane University


Women of the Storm (WOS) was formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with the goal of engaging local female activists in attracting Congressional attention to the region. The organization, although successful in garnering support for Hurricane recovery, wetland protection, and preventative measures in case of another storm, suffered because of the continued impact of a long history of segregation in women’s activism in New Orleans. The split in past organizational affiliations led to the eventual divide of the group along racial lines. This case explores the historical context under which the organization was challenged, as well as WOS’s leadership, recruitment, trip to Washington, and the ultimate exit of minority members. What could WOS have changed to keep these members? How did the organization fail to integrate all New Orleanians into their civil activism? Women of the Storm serves as an exemplar for women’s response in the wake of a natural disaster, but underscores a cautionary tale of member inclusion and the necessity of diversity as a priority in organizational structure.