Disasters are threatening and highly dynamic situations, marked by high levels of information need and low levels of information availability. Advances in communication technologies have given people more ways to seek information and communicate—a redundancy that can help people cope with disaster situations and support subsequent recovery. This article presents results from a longitudinal study of New Orleans musicians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The authors found that in the immediate aftermath, musicians used cell phones and the Internet to locate family and friends and obtain information unavailable in broadcast news reports. Seeking and redistributing information resulted in the creation or discovery of online spaces that became virtual instantiations of the physical environments from which the musicians were barred. For those who had to leave New Orleans, these online spaces helped them maintain connection with their local communities. As recovery continued, many musicians discontinued or adjusted their use of technologies that did not fit the cultural and social context of their everyday lives. Those who returned to New Orleans focused their energies on rebuilding, often eschewing mediated communication for New Orleans–style in-person interaction. Those who remained away found that digital connections to the New Orleans community were insufficient to maintain a sense of belonging
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