Katrina alters coastal diversity

June 7, 2006 at 10:30 AM
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NEW ORLEANS, June 7 (UPI) -- Hurricane Katrina not only displaced hundreds of thousands, the post-storm period also has changed the racial diversity in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.

A U.S. Census Bureau report, which measured the population shift from before Katrina until this January, says the hurricane drove more than 400,000 people from the New Orleans area and the Gulf Coast, reports The Washington Post.

The non-Hispanic white population of the New Orleans region increased to 68 percent by January from 54 percent prior to last August when Katrina hit, says the report.

The Gulfport-Biloxi region lost 41,000 people during this period but unlike the New Orleans region, the Mississippi coast has become less white, with non-Hispanic blacks' population in the state's coastal counties rising to 27 percent from 17 percent. Census officials warned some of the figures may have larger than normal margins of error as they are already five months old.

One estimate says the population of New Orleans has grown from 156,000 in January to 192,000 in May. About 450,000 people lived there before Katrina.

Separately, The New York Times reported that while New Orleans lost about two-thirds of its population, the adjacent St. Bernard Parish dropped a full 95 percent to 3,361 residents by January.

The population in Houston, which took in most of the evacuees, rose more than 130,000. Whites in the city made up 62.8 percent of the population in January, compared with 64.8 percent prior to Katrina.

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