Hurricane Hindsight

Studying the aftermath of 2005's megastorms

One year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the population of the city "was smaller, older, more educated, less poor, with fewer renters, and [had] fewer households with children," reports the Brookings Institution in a recent compilation of research comparing 2006 American Community Survey stats from the U.S. Census Bureau with data from the 2000 census. "To a lesser extent, this was also the case within the entire metropolitan area, suggesting that many with these characteristics have left, rather than relocated within the region," concludes "Resettling New Orleans: The First Full Picture From the Census." The September report also concludes, "Black New Orleanians were most likely to have moved to the Houston metro area, whereas whites mostly moved elsewhere in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Low-income 'displaced' residents were living in far flung metropolitan areas like Houston, Dallas, and Atlanta one year after Katrina." At the same time, migrants from surrounding, suburban parishes, "home to higher-income New Orleanians right after the storm," were moving into the city, the report notes. For more, check out www.brookings.edu/metro/pubs/20070912_katrinafreysinger.htm.

On a related note, the Government Account­ability Office issued a review on Aug. 31 of the Federal Emergency Manage­ment Agency's implementation of alternative housing pilot programs in the parts of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas slammed hardest by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and/or Wilma in 2005. The report concludes:

"Allowing applicants more time could increase the quantity and quality of [grant] proposals. Perceiving some urgency to quickly implement the program, FEMA gave applicants 35 days to prepare and submit their applications for AHPP grants, even though the program was new and intended to elicit innovation."

"Establishing minimum and/or maximum grant award amounts could help ensure comparability among proposals and ultimately lead to funding a greater number of innovative proposals."

"Determining the relative weight of each rating criterion, and explicitly stating these weights in program guidance, would also help promote comparability among proposals. ... FEMA's failure to do so, according to the DHS inspector general, created the possibility that panel members' reviews of grant applications could have been unbalanced." For the full report, see www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-1143R.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Hurricane Katrina, The Brookings Institution, Government Account­ability Office, FEMA

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