Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hurricane Katrina: Who was hit? Who will return?


The First In-Depth Demographic Analysis of the Strike Zone

The images were accurate: The Gulf Coast’s poor, black residents were hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina, according to findings by a Brown University sociologist. Professor John Logan’s new research is the first of its kind from the disaster zone and raises provocative questions about the future population of New Orleans.

The Gulf Coast’s African Americans and poorest residents were disproportionately impacted by Hurricane Katrina, according to new findings from Brown University sociologist John Logan. His research, analyzing who lived in the most heavily damaged areas, is the first in-depth demographic analysis conducted in Katrina’s strike zone. It also raises serious questions about who will return to the storm-ravaged areas. The findings indicate New Orleans alone is at risk of losing more than 80 percent of its black population if people cannot return to flooded neighborhoods.

“The suffering from the storm certainly cut across racial and class lines,” said Logan, director of Brown University’s Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4) Initiative. “But the odds of living in a damaged area were clearly much greater for blacks, residents who rented their homes, and poor people. In these respects, the most socially vulnerable residents also turned out to be most exposed to Katrina.”

Across the region, nearly 650,000 people lived in areas that sustained moderate to catastrophic damage. Logan’s research shows significant demographic disparities between that population and those who lived in undamaged zones. The population of the damaged areas was:

  • nearly half black (45.8 percent, compared to 26.4 percent of the undamaged areas);
  • living in rental housing (45.7 percent compared to 30.9 percent);
  • disproportionately below the poverty line (20.9 percent compared to 15.3 percent);
  • unemployed (7.6 percent compared to 6.0 percent).

Logan’s report features extensive detail on social differences among each of the city’s 13 planning districts and 72 neighborhoods. “The analysis reveals great variation within New Orleans, but there is a general tendency for blacks and poor residents to have greater odds of being in harm’s way, because they lived in less desirable, low-lying areas,” Logan said.

Logan believes the findings have implications for the future of the Gulf region, and especially for the city itself. Blacks were less likely to be homeowners and had average incomes 60 percent lower than whites. This means that it will be more difficult for them to reestablish their lives in New Orleans without assistance. In addition, damaged neighborhoods housed just half of the city’s whites but more than 80 percent of its African-American population. Decisions to prevent rebuilding in heavily flooded areas will disproportionately affect blacks simply because of where they lived.

The findings are based on a combination of U.S. Census data and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster classification for each area. This report is the first fruit of a collaborative project studying Hurricane Katrina’s social and environmental impacts. In addition to Logan, the interdisciplinary team includes Phil Brown, professor of sociology; Steve Hamburg, associate professor of environmental studies; Rachel Morello-Frosch, assistant professor of environmental studies; and Jack Mustard, associate professor of geological sciences. The group received an SGER award from the National Science Foundation for the research. Subsequent analyses will use remote sensing to map patterns of damage in more detail and trace the rebuilding of neighborhoods in the region.

To supplement this report, Brown University’s American Communities Project developed a Web-based map system, which allows users to identify damaged areas and sort the information by census variables. More information on the project is online at

Deborah Goldstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>