Geographic Assessment of Unattended Swimming Pools in Post-Katrina New Orleans, 2006-2008

Imelda K. Moise, Kenneth S. Brown, Claudia Riegel, Ezekiel Kalipeni, Marilyn O. Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we examined the spatial and temporal patterns of unattended swimming pools and determined the effect of neighborhood deterioration on odds of a pool being unattended in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 2006 to 2008, a period during which the city experienced widespread devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A surfeit of unattended pools on properties abandoned by displaced residents has a number of potential direct and indirect negative health impacts for returning local populations, including elevated transmission rates due to a punctuated increase in the relative abundance of mosquito breeding sites. Based on the broken windows theory, we identified spatial variables describing physical and socioeconomic neighborhood characteristics hypothesized to influence the density of unattended pools in the study area to answer the following core research questions: (1) What is the spatial structure of unattended pools over time during post-Katrina New Orleans? (2) What neighborhood predictors are associated with this variability? (3) How do demographic characteristics and neighborhood structural deterioration affect the odds of a pool being unattended in 2006 immediately after Katrina compared to the longer period from 2006 to 2008 when recovery dynamics might reflect more than the physical effects of the hurricane? The results indicate that traditional variables associated with neighborhood deterioration (e.g., vacant houses, properties with major structural damages) do not provide as robust an explanation for presence of unattended pools in the study area. This suggests that neighborhood demographics and underlying preexisting characteristics of neighborhood conditions influence unattended pool presence rather than the physical deterioration of neighborhoods, to which unmaintained pools contribute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1175
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2013


  • GIS
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • New Orleans
  • spatial scan statistics
  • unattended swimming pools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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