by the Night Writer
I came across this story from the New Orleans Times-Picayune as part of my day job. It cites a study in the May issue of Risk Assessment by two Dutch researchers from Delft Univesity and two researchers from LSU (emphasis mine):
Four years later, researchers still count New Orleans’ Katrina dead, parsing them into categories, puzzling over exactly how each of the more than 1,400 victims perished — and what might be done to protect them the next time a big one rolls in off the Gulf.
Their findings, though incomplete, jibe with common sense. The dead were overwhelmingly old. Most lived near the levee breaches in the 9th Ward and Lakeview. About two-thirds either drowned or died from illness or injury brought on by being trapped in houses surrounded by water.
The rest died from maladies or injuries suffered in or exacerbated by an arduous evacuation — or an inability to evacuate quickly enough, including many who died in local hospitals that lost power and other life-sustaining services. Neither race nor gender made anyone more likely to die, only a failure to evacuate and a location near a levee breach.
The study of Katrina deaths provides a grim reminder of the hazards of staying for a dangerous storm. The authors concentrated on 1,100 victims in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. They found that nearly 85 percent were older than 51, 60 percent older than 65 and almost half were older than 75, the report said.
That compares to pre-Katrina population statistics showing only 25 percent of the two parishes’ residents were older than 50, 12 percent were older than 65 and only 6 percent were older than 75.
The Katrina statistics were similar to studies of deaths during a catastrophic 1953 flood that overwhelmed levees in the Netherlands.
Gender apparently played little role in the Katrina deaths, with 50.6 of the victims male and 49.3 percent female, compared with the pre-Katrina population of 47.1 percent male and 52.9 percent female.
The statistics “do not directly support claims that African-Americans were more likely to become fatalities, ” as some believed in the storm’s aftermath, the study said. A slightly smaller percentage of African-American residents died in comparison to the pre-Katrina population numbers for the neighborhoods in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes that the study examined.
Of the 818 fatalities for which race is listed, 55 percent were African-American, compared to 40 percent white, 2 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Asian-Pacific. There were 35 victims in the deaths studied for whom race was unknown.