New Orleans diaspora

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Photo of destruction in Lower Ninth Ward following Hurricane Katrina

The New Orleans diaspora refers to the population evacuated or forced to flee from New Orleans, Louisiana, by the effects of Hurricane Katrina in the late summer of 2005.

As of July 1, 2008, New Orleans had a population of 311,853, a decrease in population from the 445,000 residents of the city prior to Hurricane Katrina.[1]

Pre-Katrina decrease in population[edit]

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had experienced a decrease in population of 18% (109,000 residents) between 1970 and 2000, and which fell by a further 6% (30,000 residents) from 2000 to 2005.[2]

Diaspora destinations[edit]

In the initial period following Hurricane Katrina, there were several useful sources of data about where displaced residents from New Orleans were living. In particular, information on the location of evacuees was available from change-of-address forms filed with the U.S. Postal Service and from registrations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for aid. Analyses of these data showed that nearly 15% of evacuees from New Orleans relocated to distant cities in the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast. The main destinations for displaced residents were suburban New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Baton Rouge.[2]


As of 2008, just over half of the city’s adult residents (56 percent) were African American, roughly one in three (35 percent) were Caucasian, and 5 percent were Hispanic. This is roughly equivalent to the shape of the population in a 2006 survey, fielded one year after Katrina. It is also fairly similar to the city’s pre-storm distribution as measured by the Census Bureau’s 2005 American Community Survey (ACS), which found that the adult population was 60 percent African American and 32 percent Caucasian.[3]


Housing, particularly for the poor, has been a contentious issue. In 2002, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took over the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), and planned shortly thereafter to redevelop half of the city's public housing complexes, which plan was instituted with urgency after Katrina struck the city.[4] The plan has been met with controversy, with protests after the government decided to replace 4,500 units of housing with a mixed-use development that has 744 public housing units in C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper, Lafitte and St. Bernard public housing projects.[5]

In May 2009, FEMA announced an end to its temporary housing program it started in the aftermath of Katrina, but presented with the more than 3,400 people still living in FEMA trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi who faced eviction, offered hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast still living in government-supplied trailers to buy their temporary homes for as little as $1.[6]

In the meantime, rent has spiked an average of 40% since the storm in the city, with the small rental program instituted after the disaster having been ineffective in assisting small holding landlords to rebuild and improve properties previously inhabited by renters.[7]

Population recovery[edit]

Based on a study from the Brookings Institute in 2008, the city's population grew 3% from 2007 to 2008, compared with a 19% increase from 2006 to 2007, and that overall, the city stands at about 72% of its pre-Katrina population of 450,000, or about 316,000, with the population of Jefferson Parish essentially returning to the pre-disaster level, and the adjoining St. Bernard Parish, reaching approximately 40% of its pre-disaster population.[8]


  1. ^ Burdeau, Cain (March 19, 2009). "New Orleans' Has Highest Population Since 2005". Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  2. ^ a b Sastry, Naryan (Summer 2007). "Working Paper: Tracing the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the Population of New Orleans" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  3. ^ "New Orleans Three Years after the Storm: The Second Kaiser Post-Katrina Survey, 2008" (PDF). The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. p. 6. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  4. ^ "Fact Sheet: Redevelopment that Respects New Orleanians". HUD. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  5. ^ Alingod, Kris. "Update 2: New Orleans City Council Unanimously Votes To Demolish Public Housing". AHN News. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  6. ^ Linthicum, Kate. "Hurricane victims get chance to buy trailers for as little as $1". L.A. Times. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  7. ^ Gonzales, John M. (2008-11-25). "With aid in limbo, New Orleans rents rise". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  8. ^ Jervis, Rick (8/4/2008). "New Orleans' population may have hit plateau". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-06-12.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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