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Over five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the aesthetic scars may be slowly healing but the impact clearly still remains – as it was revealed that the population of the city is nearly 30 per cent smaller than a decade ago.
The Louisiana city, which was the 24th biggest city in the U.S. two decades ago, is now languishing as the 53rd most populated.
According to the Census Bureau, just 343,829 people were living in the city as of April 1 last year.
n 2000, five years before the hurricane which claimed the lives of over 1,800 people, New Orleans was inhabited by a healthy 484,674.
African-American residents were hit particularly hard by the natural disaster, which impacted most heavily on predominantly black areas, such as the 9th Ward where there were several breaches in the levee holding back flood waters.
The city, which was once more than two-thirds black, now has 118,000 fewer black residents, shrinking the overall share to 60 per cent, according to figures published in the New York Times.
It is believed many who are yet to return to the city are still waiting for promised insurance or government money which would enable them to repair their damaged homes and make them habitable once again.
The number of children is down 56,193 – a staggering 44 per cent drop.
This could be put down, in part, to the fact that a number of schools gutted during the floods still remain shut.
Local campaigners say damage reimbursements to help rebuild communities promised by FEMA, the government agency tasked to deal with natural disasters, remain unspent five years after the storm.
Things, it seems, could be about to get even worse for New Orleans following the release of the paltry population figures.
The drop in inhabitants could lead to cuts in federal funding for housing and infrastructure, James Perry, of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, told the New York Times.
This would heavily impact on a city that is still attempting to claw its way to recovery.
Some argue that the census figures are not accurate and do not account for those living in abandoned buildings and those who have moved in with family members following the loss of their home.
The city continues to be burdened with the events that unfolded during the floods.
Three current or former police officers were convicted at the end of last year over the death of Henry Glover, an unarmed man who was shot in the back in the wake of Katrina.
Glover was shot outside a shopping mall in September 2005 and left to die in a car which a New Orleans police officer then drove to a deserted levee and set on fire.
David Warren was convicted of the manslaughter of Mr Glover and officer Gregory McRae was convicted of burning Mr Glover’s body in a car.
Lieutenant Travis McCabe was convicted of writing a false report on the shooting and lying to the FBI and a grand jury.
A total of 20 current or former New Orleans police officers were charged last year in a series of U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigations.
By John Mcdonnell
Last updated at 12:00 PM on 4th February 2011
Source: The Daily Mail