NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 16, 2005

Statistics released by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals suggest that fewer than half of the victims of Hurricane Katrina were black, and that whites died at the highest rate of all races in New Orleans.

In the aftermath of the storm, some were quick to allege that the Bush administration delayed its response to the catastrophe because most of the victims were black.

But the state's demographic information suggests that whites in New Orleans died at a higher rate than minorities.

  • According to the 2000 census, whites make up 28 percent of the city's population, but the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals indicates that whites constitute 36.6 percent of the storm's fatalities in the city.
  • African-Americans make up 67.25 percent of the population and 59.1 percent of the deceased.
  • Other minorities constitute approximately 5 percent of the population and represented 4.3 percent of the storm's fatalities.

Overall for the state, 658 bodies have been identified; 47 percent were African-American and 42 percent were Caucasian; the remaining bodies were either non-black minorities or undetermined.

An additional 247 victims have not been identified, so their demographic information has not been released.

The data showed that the majority of Katrina's victims lived in the Orleans parish. The nearby St. Bernard and Jefferson parishes had 91 and 25 victims, respectively.

The storm also did not discriminate based on gender: 50 percent of the victims were male and 49 percent were female, with 1 percent being undetermined.

Source: Nathan Burchfiel, "Statistics Suggest Race Not a Factor in Katrina Deaths," Cybercast News Service, December 14, 2005; based upon: "Vital Statistics of All Bodies at St. Gabriel Morgue," Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, December 13, 2005.

For LDHH statistics:


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