Hurricane Katrina Damage to New Orleans Area Housing

Four In Ten Homes Suffered Major Damage

New Orleans Commemorates 5th Anniversary Of Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans Commemorates 5th Anniversary Of Hurricane Katrina. Sean Gardner/Getty Images News

At the end of 2009, more than five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city; more than 44,200 housing units in New Orleans remained uninhabitable, according to the first comprehensive report on Katrina-related housing damage​ from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report, 2009 American Housing Survey for the New Orleans Metropolitan Area, reveals that almost three-quarters (74%) of all current homeowners in New Orleans said their homes were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

More than four in 10 of those homeowners reported major damage to their homes costing $15,000 or more to repair. Fortunately, reported the Census Bureau, most of those homeowners received benefits through the federal flood insurance program.

Also See: Flood Insurance Myths and Facts

Of the 65,000 housing units throughout the Gulf Coast that remained uninhabitable due to Katrina, about two-thirds have been or are scheduled to be condemned or demolished. About two-thirds (68%) of the uninhabitable units were in the city of New Orleans.

Fleeing the Storm

The survey shows that immediately after Hurricane Katrina's landfall on August 25, 2005, about four of every five New Orleans residents left the area. Most reported staying away for at least two weeks, relocating twice during that time. Eighty-three percent of those who moved reported staying in a house or apartment at least once while they were displaced, and 31% lived in a hotel, motel or cruise ship at some point.

Families and individuals who moved for more than two weeks because of Hurricane Katrina reported a median income of $36,000, while those who either did not move or moved for less than two weeks had a median income of $40,030.

Today, at least 31,500 (7%) of New Orleans metro area households still do not consider themselves to be permanently settled.

Repairing the Damage

Of the 214,700 owner-occupied housing units damaged by Hurricane Katrina, 199,000 had been repaired by the end of 2009.

  • Among the 214,700 owner-occupied units suffering damage, 173,400 reported receiving some type of financial aid, usually homeowner's insurance (152,100). Additionally, 43,800 received federal flood insurance and 15,900 received other forms of federal disaster recovery assistance. Some homeowners received multiple types of aid.
  • In the aftermath of Katrina, the US Corps of Engineers determined that more than 83,700 (39%) of the damaged housing units should be elevated above the Katrina-established flood elevation as part of their repair. According to the survey, only about 5,800 (7%) of those units have been or will be elevated.
  • About one-fifth of all owner-occupied units (21%) have had 10 or more separate repairs done to them as a result of Hurricane Katrina damage.
  • Among the owner-occupied units damaged by Katrina, reconstruction work lasted a median of eight months, and repair work a median of four months.
  • There were 16,000 owner-occupied units that needed additions because of Katrina, such as a carport or a bathroom; these additions cost a median of $4,000. About 1.1 million separate alterations, replacements, maintenance or repair jobs were done because of the hurricane; these jobs cost of median of $10,500 each.

    "The Katrina situation shows the great value of housing statistics collected by the Census Bureau for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in measuring the progress of recovery after a disaster," said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. "The American Housing Survey is the nation's most comprehensive measure of housing stock and its characteristics, and HUD, along with local housing agencies, use it extensively in developing solutions to housing problems."

    New Orleans Coming Back… Slowly

    In 2005, prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' population of 484,674 made it the 24th largest city in the United States. According to the Census Bureau, only 343,829 people were living in the city as of April 1, 2010 - 30% smaller than in 2000.