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Katrina victims still are without permanent homes

Associated Press / February 16, 2011

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NEW ORLEANS — Nearly 30,000 Hurricane Katrina victims were forced to live in a succession of five or more places after the storm hit, Census data released Monday showed, and about the same number said their permanent living situation was still in flux.

It was the latest Census data release to fill in the gaps about what has happened to the region since floodwalls and levees protecting the city broke, causing massive flooding and killing more than 1,600 people after the storm hit Aug. 29, 2005.

About four out of every five residents said they evacuated the city for at least a couple of weeks and had to relocate about two times. Also, 83 percent said they stayed in a house or apartment at least once during their displacement and about 31 percent said they stayed in a hotel, motel, or cruise ship.

The new data, based on surveys of 6,000 housing units in the second half of 2009, looked at the larger metropolitan area of New Orleans, made up of about 1.1 million people.

The new figures provide solid numbers to what has been a rich, but largely anecdotal, narrative of the Katrina displacement, said Allison Plyer, deputy director of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a nonprofit analyzing the Katrina recovery.

“No one has been able to track the folks who have been displaced,’’ she said. “It’s been quite a mystery.’’

Earlier this month, Census data showed that New Orleans is a much smaller city than it was before Katrina and much of the loss in population was among blacks who have been unwilling or unable to return. In 2000, there were about 323,000 blacks in New Orleans compared with about 206,870 in 2010.

Another big hit was to the number of children under 18, which dropped by 56,193, or 43 percent, since 2000.

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