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Katrina: The Facts

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On the weekend after Thanksgiving, Karol, Thomas, and I — along with my parents — drove for the first time through the Katrina-ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans.  We were stunned by the devastation.  Some of my recollections are here [2].

One surprise was seeing the destruction of the New Orleans’ neighborhood known as Lakeview [3].  This neighborhood is solidly middle-class and upper-middle-class.  And yet to our eyes the destruction in Lakeview is at least as bad — and probably worse — than the destruction in the Ninth Ward [4].

And yet I don’t recall hearing or reading any of the national news media report on Lakeview.  Almost all of the reports focused on the much poorer Ninth Ward.  This focus helped to create and perpetuate the now-widely held belief that Katrina’s devastation was visited disproportionately on poor people.  After seeing Lakeview, I began to question that belief.  Now, after reading this column [5] in yesterday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, I not only question, but reject, that belief.

The column — by A. Barton Hinkle — reports findings of a recent study by the Knight-Ridder news agency.  Here’s the meat of Hinkle’s column:

Among other things, Knight-Ridder found:

These figures belie the assumption that Katrina was not only devastating, but selectively so.