Statistics Suggest Race Not a Factor in Katrina Deaths
By Nathan Burchfiel
December 14, 2005
(CNSNews.com) - 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.
Liberals in the aftermath of the storm were quick to allege that the Bush administration delayed its response to the catastrophe because most of the victims were black.
Damu Smith, founder of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, in September said that the federal government "ignored us, they forgot about us ... because we look like we look."
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in October said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasn't fit to help the storm's victims because "there are not enough blacks high up in FEMA" and added that, "certainly the Red Cross is the same."
Rapper Kanye West used his time on NBC's telethon for the hurricane victims to charge that, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
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. Forty-seven 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. Fifty percent of the victims were male and 49 percent were female, with 1 percent being undetermined.
Calls requesting comment from Damu Smith and the Nation of Islam were not returned Wednesday.