March 22, 2007

Gosh, reporting is so much easier when you already have the framing settled ahead of time.

Counties hit by Katrina slow to repopulate

WASHINGTON (AP) Experts say the pace of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina has slowed, leaving New Orleans and some other Gulf Coast areas with less than half the people they had before the storm.

Ummm, slow compared to--what, exactly? "Less than half"? Is there a benchmark level that we should be expecting, considering what happened in New Orleans is unprecedented?

And they say some of the hardest hit might never regain their population.

Gosh, THANKS experts! "Might never," or not! Not to diminish the suffering of people along the coast hit by Katrina, but depopulation does occur when places no longer are able to offer economic security for their residents. Out West, they're called "ghost towns." But they're all over the country--many of the places where my parents grew up are no longer visible, the houses and businesses long ago having been abandoned and taken over by kudzu. But if there's a way to make a living there, people will go back. But despite what experts might say (or not!), there's no formula to predict how long that will take.

The latest Census Bureau estimates, to be released today, say that ten months after the hurricane, Orleans Parish had slightly less than half the people it did before the storm. Nearby Saint Bernard Parish had less than a fourth of its pre-storm population.

It might be worth noting that Katrina hit 19 months ago. The data is an estimate, and it's from 10 months ago. Now that's nearly a whole year out of date, and it's possible more people might have moved in in the intervening time. But, of course, that's not really important, is it? Nah--only that it's slow, by some arbitrary measure. And convenient for making a political statement.

But other Gulf Coast communities have grown as hurricane victims fled to nearby cities and Americans continued a decades-long migration to coastal areas.

Harris County, Texas -- home to Houston -- added more than 123,000 people from 2005 to 2006. Houston attracted many Katrina refugees.

Gosh, so you're telling me places not hit as hard grew in population, because the people displaced went there?! Fascinating, Captain! The implication of the article seems to be that this growth is the result of something rather shady--it's as if those rich Houstonians are somehow sucking up all the growth that should be going into poor parts of New Orleans.

Those evil Big Oil people!

Or something.

It's hard to tell exactly what the whole point of the story is, if not to attempt to cast any part of the recovery effort in an unfavorable light. But then again, maybe I'm just being cynical.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at March 22, 2007 08:48 AM

New Orleans won't ever die because of financial inviability... the government will suppport them. That's the government's job, right?

But hey, Mayor Nagin says it was a gummamint scheme to use that hurricane to force all those people out of their homes and are studying how to use the scheme in other cities.

Posted by: Nate at March 22, 2007 08:58 AM

One might want to remember that Mr. Nagin seems to have had three-quarters of his gray matter displaced.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 22, 2007 09:02 AM

Oh dear. And he didn't start off with very much, did he?

Posted by: skinnydan at March 22, 2007 09:16 AM

No, but he still managed to do quite well for himself. And really, isn't that what's most important in all of this?

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at March 22, 2007 10:04 AM