As Gustav Approaches, Katrina Wounds Remain

Rather, she said she hopes the new research will change the way the American public perceives disaster relief.

"We can't just respond to a disaster and forget about it six weeks later when the sun is shining and everything is cleared up," she said. "You can't look at a disaster, give some money and some clothes, wipe your hands clean, and say, 'I've helped and I'm done.'

"As soon as we forget, we repeat our mistakes."

Roberts agreed.

"I think it's the responsibility of our society to assist these people," she said. "I think our society is better off if we deal with these issues now instead of continuing to tell people to have a stiff upper lip and pretend everything is okay, because it's not."

Gootee said he and other Louisiana residents have not forgotten. And as they brace for what could be another killer storm, he said the mental strain could take a toll on many Katrina survivors.

"For the people who were hard hit, yes I would agree that not much has changed and it hasn't changed fast enough," Gootee noted. "It's got a long way to go, and that's part of the slow pace; it's still going on.

"It's just wearing people down. They're exhausted."

Radha Chitale and Michelle Schlief contributed to this report.

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