State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


NYC, Gulf Coast Teens Talk About Life After Disaster

At the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, high school students in New York City posed questions about life during and after a catastrophe to a very particular group of experts – high school students in the Gulf Coast who had experienced the BP oil spill and had lived through as many as six hurricanes in the past decade, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Their video project, “The Katrina/Sandy Youth Dialogue, Part 1,” is a product of the SHOREline network.

“How did you feel during Hurricane Katrina?” one of the sophomores from New York City’s Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management asked his counterparts in the SHOREline program at Alma Bryant High School in South Mobile County, Ala.

“I was kind of scared,” admitted a Bryant junior. “I remember hearing the house next door to us being blown away, and we were afraid it was going to tear our house apart.”

Hurricane Katrina
Students at South Lafourche High School in Cut Off, La., talk about daily life after Hurricane Katrina.

All of the high school students are part of the SHOREline program (“Skills, Hope, Opportunities, Recovery and Engagement”), a national youth-empowerment project developed at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Earth Institute and at the Center for Disaster and Risk Analysis at Colorado State University. The curriculum focuses on project-based learning, where the teens identify problems and develop their own solutions to the issues in their communities.

For this particular project, ninth- and 10th-graders at the Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management in New York City, a new public high school dedicated to training the next generation of emergency management professionals, developed a set of questions about hurricane response and recovery to ask their peers in Gulf Coast high schools in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

With the help of documentary filmmaker and educator Philip B. Swift, the SHOREline students used smartphones and cameras to record their questions and answers.

“One of our objectives with SHOREline is to help the students make powerful connections,” said SHOREline co-director Dr. David Abramson. “This video dialogue project exemplifies how the students use media to foster relationships outside their home community while learning about the broader impacts of disasters.”

“We developed this program in response to needs and desires expressed by the teens in disaster affected communities,” said the program’s co-director, Dr. Lori Peek. “They have taken the lead in developing tools and resources to help each other and youth in other communities who might be exposed to disasters.  It is so powerful for the students who have experienced such disasters to realize that they have something valuable to share with others, and that they can make a difference.”

For information about SHOREline, see the project’s website, or contact Abramson at or Peek at

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments