The communities struck by Katrina were some of the poorest and most vulnerable in America.
Median incomes in New Orleans and the other affected areas are significantly lower than the national average. Based on poverty rate, Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation. Louisiana is the second poorest. The poverty rate in New Orleans prior to the storm was 23 percent, 76 percent higher than the national average of 13.1 percent. In Louisiana, African Americans comprise 31.5 percent of the population, but 69 percent of the children in poverty.
The effect of high poverty in these areas is magnified by low levels of social insurance not captured by the poverty data.
Combined with low incomes and high poverty rates, it now appears that a significant number of families simply were not able to marshal the resources to evacuate, and are now especially dependent on national relief efforts.
The following tables outline some of the demographic, racial and economic characteristics of the hurricane affected regions on the Gulf Coast.
Who Are Katrina’s Victims?(pdf)