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A Post-Katrina Look at Housing in the New Orleans Area

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On Aug. 29, 2005, disaster struck one of our nation’s major metropolitan areas and most storied cities, as Hurricane Katrina devastated the New Orleans area. Its storm surges caused dozens of levee breaches in the area, submerging most of “The Big Easy.” Katrina turned out to be the costliest natural disaster, and one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in our nation’s history.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the Census Bureau did its part for those who needed to assess the impact, creating a special Hurricane Katrina Emergency Preparedness page on its website, with a wide range of demographic and economic data on the affected areas. Today, we take stock of the situation five years later, with a detailed look at the housing situation in the area. These statistics provide policymakers and analysts with myriad measures of the extent of the repair and rebuilding work occurring in the New Orleans area.

How much damage did Katrina do to the area’s housing? The data from the American Housing Survey, collected between July and November 2009, document the extent of the damage and the degree to which people have rebuilt. The data show that almost 75 percent of the homes that are now owner-occupied suffered at least some damage. Among these homes, 45 percent of owners reported they had to repair major damage, spending at least $15,000.

The Census Bureau is the place to turn for statistics in time of crisis, to measure the damage caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters.

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