Survey: Evacuees Causing Compassion Fatigue in Houston

So-called "compassion fatigue" here in Houston could be affecting how residents feel about Katrina evacuees. That according to a new survey by Rice University sociology professor Stephen Klineberg. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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Klineberg is the founding director the Houston Area Survey and has most recently polled local residents on their thoughts about how Katrina evacuees have impacted the city. He says the initial reactions were positive, but have slowly turned more skeptical.

"We asked people, do you agree of disagree with this statement: The Houston community really came together to help the evacuees. 97-percent of all Houstonians said yes we did. But 76-percent said helping the evacuees has put a considerable strain on the Houston community."

The survey also found that 66-percent of those polled thought there had been an increase in violent crime in Houston because of the evacuees and 47-percent say the overall impact of the evacuees has been a bad thing. Klineberg says he thinks the bad feelings will fade.

"What we're now seeing in this new phase of compassion fatigue and some regrets as we look back, I don't think that's going to last and I think this is going to strengthen our capacity to respond effectively the next time it comes and I can't imagine that in similar circumstances, Houston wouldn't even more likely the next time do what it did this time."

The survey was presented at a recent conference on the impact of severe storms on the Houston area.

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