Benny's World

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Census shows Katrina's Ground Zero victims unlike rest of America

9/4/2005, 1:26 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

(AP) — People living in the path of Hurricane Katrina's worst devastation were twice as likely as most Americans to be poor and without a car — factors that may help explain why so many failed to evacuate as the storm approached.

An Associated Press analysis of Census data shows that the residents in the three dozen hardest-hit neighborhoods in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama also were disproportionately minority and had incomes $10,000 below the national average.

"Let them know we're not bums. We have houses. Our houses were destroyed. We have jobs. It's not our fault that we didn't have cars to leave," Shatonia Thomas, 27, said as she walked near New Orleans' convention center five days after the storm, still trapped in the destruction with her children, ages 6 and 9.

Money and transportation — two keys to surviving a natural disaster — were inaccessible for many who got left behind in the Gulf region's worst squalor.

"It's a different equation for poor people," explained Dan Carter, a University of South Carolina historian. "There's a certain ease of transportation and funds that the middle class in this country takes for granted."

Catina Miller, a 32-year-old grocery deli worker who lived in the Ninth Ward, a poverty-stricken New Orleans enclave created in the 1870s by immigrants who were too poor to find higher ground, said she certainly would have liked to have left the city before the hurricane hit.

"But where can you go if you don't have a car?" she asked. "Not everyone can just pick up and take off."

Jack Harrald, director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University in Washington, said emergency planners have known for years that the poverty and lack of transportation in New Orleans would be a significant problem, but the government spent more time and money preparing itself — rather than communities — for disaster.


This corroborates what JRE said the other day about Two Americas.


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