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10 Years Later, There's So Much We Don't Know About Where Katrina Survivors Ended Up

An incomplete picture of displacement and return in New Orleans, in maps.
A family sits on their porch in the Treme area of New Orleans, which lies under several feet of water after Hurricane Katrina hit August 29, 2005.
A family sits on their porch in the Treme area of New Orleans, which lies under several feet of water after Hurricane Katrina hit August 29, 2005. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the city of New Orleans on the morning of August 29, 2005, swept in by winds traveling at 127 mph. But the true damage came after the levees broke, when about 80 percent of the city flooded. At least 400,000 residents, nearly the entire city, were displaced—some for a few days, some forever.

Ten years later, there is still no single, comprehensive source of information on what happened to displaced New Orleans residents—on where they went, or why. Beyond FEMA and U.S. Census data collected a year or less after the disaster, neither the local nor federal government had systems in place to systematically track Katrina’s castaways.