Friday, December 30, 2005

Defining Katrina deaths

posted by Rob at 8:27 AM

Interesting - and unsurprising - news being reported today: the media assumptions regarding the victims of Katrina were wrong:
... a comparison of locations where 874 bodies were recovered with U.S. Census tract data indicates that the victims weren't disproportionately poor. Another database, compiled by Knight Ridder of 486 Katrina victims from Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, suggests they also weren't disproportionately African-American.
Sorry Wolf, but it appears most of the victims were not "so poor ... and ... so black."

Note that the Knight-Ridder study examined "locations where 874 bodies" were found. As of Dec. 21 (the latest report I could find), the number of deaths linked to Katrina was 1,322. So the K-R study looked at only 66 percent of the known dead.

Also note that any report of Katrina deaths is suspect given the wide definition of who constitutes being classified as such. As the AP reported last week (emphasis mine):
Officially, as of Sunday, the states counted 1,075 deaths in Louisiana, 230 in Mississippi, 14 in Florida and two each in Georgia and Alabama. But the states have different definitions for storm-related deaths. For example, Louisiana counts evacuee deaths from heart attacks or strokes before Oct. 1 as storm deaths, but Georgia doesn't.
The AP report uses the example of "a 56-year-old New Orleans woman who had a stroke two days after she was bused from the infamous storm refugee shelter in the Superdome to Texas." She's counted as a Katrina victim.

As Best of the Web noted when that report came out:
Couldn't the AP have interviewed a New Orleans evacuee who wasn't murdered in what, prestorm, was one of the most violent cities in America?


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