Monday, January 02, 2006

Facts Are Stubborn Things

You probably didn't see this reported on your favorite nightly news program. Reporters John Simerman, Dwight Ott and Ted Mellnik of Knight Ridder News Service reported on December 30, 2005 that the early data of Hurricane Katrina runs counter to the perception presented by the media coverage:
"...a comparison of locations where 874 bodies were recovered with census tract data indicate 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..."
Of course, Kanye West would be the first to point out that this does not refute his claim that President Bush doesn't care about black people. The article continues:
"The one group that was disproportionately affected by the storm appears to have been older adults. People 60 and older account for only about 15 percent of the population in the New Orleans area, but the Knight Ridder database found that 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older. Nearly half were older than 75. Many of those were at nursing homes and hospitals, where nearly 20 percent of the victims were recovered. Lack of transportation was assumed to be a key reason that many people stayed behind and died, but at many addresses where the dead were found, their cars remained in their driveways, flood-ruined symbols of fatal miscalculation...."
So, people died because either they didn't leave when they could have or their caretakers failed to evacuate them. How is that FEMA's fault? And finally:
"The separate Knight Ridder database of 486 Katrina victims was compiled from official information released by state and federal authorities and interviews with survivors of the dead. It cataloged deaths according to location, race, age, name and cause of death. In that database, African Americans outnumbered whites 51 percent to 44 percent. In the area overall, African Americans outnumber whites 61 percent to 36 percent. In Orleans Parish, 62 percent of known Katrina victims were African American, compared with 66 percent for the parish population. In St. Bernard Parish, 92 percent of victims were white. Census figures show that 88 percent of parish residents identified themselves as white."
Statistically, whites were disproportionately represented in the Katrina deaths. Apparently, there was racial discrimination in the Katrina disaster after all.