Hurricane Katrina: Six Years Later

Aug. 29 marks the six-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A new report breaks down the pain that remains.

Posted: 08/29/2011 12:39 PM EDT

As the old adage goes, time heals all wounds. However, the physical, emotional and economic wounds that crippled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina may never fully heal. In countless photos, we see the sorrow written on people’s faces; we see it settled on the wreckage of hospitals, schools and homes. It’s almost tangible on the makeshift graves for those lost in the storm.

 

Bill Quigley and Davida Finger, professors at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, recently released an intensive study to put a numerical value on the pain of Katrina's survivors, called The Katrina Pain Index 2011. The following is a breakdown of their findings.

 

NEW ORLEANS - Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. The impact of Katrina and government bungling continue to inflict major pain on the people left behind. It is impossible to understand what happened and what still remains without considering race, gender, and poverty. The following offer some hints of what remains.

 

$62 million. The amount of money that HUD (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) and the State of Louisiana agreed to pay thousands of homeowners because of charges of racial discrimination in Louisiana's program to disburse federal rebuilding funds following Katrina and Rita. African-American homeowners were more likely than whites to have their rebuilding grants based on much lower pre-storm value of their homes rather than the higher estimated cost to rebuild them. Source: Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.

 

343,829. The current population of the city of New Orleans, about 110,000 less than when Katrina hit. New Orleans is now whiter, more male and more prosperous. Source: Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.

 

154,000. FEMA is now reviewing the grants it gave to 154,000 people following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. It is now demanding that some recipients return the long-ago spent funds! FEMA admits that many of the cases under review stem from mistakes made by its own agency's employees. FEMA's error rate following Katrina was 14.5 per cent. Michael Kunzelman and Ryan Foley, Associated Press.

 

65,423. In the New Orleans metropolitan area, there are now 65,423 fewer African-American women and girls than when Katrina hit. Overall, the number of women and girls decreased since Katrina by 108,116. Source: Institute for Women's Policy Research.

 

47,738. Number of vacant houses in New Orleans as of 2010. Source: GNOCDC.

 

3000. Over three thousand public housing apartments occupied before Katrina, plus another thousand under renovation, were bulldozed after Katrina. Less than ten percent, 238 families, have made it back into the apartments built on the renovated sites. Only half of the 3000+ families have even made it back to New Orleans at all. All were African-American. Source: Katy Reckdahl, Times-Picayune.

 

75. Nearly seventy–five percent of the public schools in New Orleans have become charters since Katrina. Over fifty percent of public school students in New Orleans attend public charter schools. There are now more than thirty different charter school operators in New Orleans alone. The reorganization of the public schools has created a separate–but–unequal tiered system of schools that steers a minority of students, including virtually all of the city's white students, into a set of selective, higher-performing schools and most of the city's students of color into a set of lower-performing schools. Sources: Andrew Vanacore, Times-Picayune; Valerie Strauss, Washington Post; Institute on Race & Poverty of University of Minnesota Law School.

 

70. Seventy percent more people are homeless in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. People living with HIV are estimated to be homeless at 10 times the rate of the general population, a condition amplified after Hurricane Katrina. Source: Unity for the Homeless and Times-Picayune.

 

59. Less than 60 percent of Louisiana's public school students graduate from high school with their class. Among public school children with disabilities in New Orleans, the high school graduation rate is 6.8%. Source: Education Week and Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

34. Thirty–four percent of the children in New Orleans live in poverty; the national average is 20%. Source: Annie Casey Foundation Kids Count 2011.

 

11. Eleven New Orleans police officers were convicted or plead guilty to federal crimes involving shootings of civilians during Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Source: Brendan McCarthy, Times-Picayune.

 

10. At least ten people were killed by police under questionable circumstances during the days after Katrina struck. Source: Times-Picayune

 

3. A three–fold increase in heart attacks was documented in the two years after Katrina. Source: Tulane University Health Study.

 

Number unknown. The true impact of the BP oil spill, in terms of adverse health effects, is vast but unknown. Delays by the federal government in studying the spill's physical and mental health effects hinder any ability to understand these issues with accuracy. A year after the spill, more people are reporting medical and mental health problems. Source: Campell Robertson, New York Times and National Geographic.

 

 

(Photo: Lee Celano/ Reuters)

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