Pain, Fury Still Rage a Year After Katrina

Katrina's physical devastation comes clear in other numbers: Eighty percent in the region, and nearly 90 percent in New Orleans, say their area was damaged by the storm. A year later, moreover, just half of residents across the disaster counties whose area was damaged say it's fully recovered, and in New Orleans a scant 17 percent say so.

Among current New Orleans residents -- the city was severely depopulated -- 85 percent say their primary residence was damaged by the hurricane and two-thirds suffered other property damage. More than half say the damage to their area was severe; more than half also report a severe impact on their personal lives. Across the region, people who report severe damage in their area are more apt to report slow progress toward recovery and negative personal impacts.

At the same time, there is hopefulness: Among people whose area has not yet fully recovered, majorities think it'll get there eventually. Similarly, among those who have not yet fully recovered personally, two-thirds think that eventually they will.

Hurricane Damage
  Gulf New Orleans
Area damaged   80%   89%
Damaged severely   27   54
If damaged, area fully recovered   51   17
If not recovered, eventually will   72   60

Nonetheless, a quarter of New Orleans residents don't think their area will ever fully recover. And two in 10 doubt they'll personally ever recover completely.

The poll, including random-sample interviews in the Katrina disaster counties, New Orleans and nationally, supports ABC News' division-wide special programming, "Katrina: Where Things Stand," airing over the next week. Katrina made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, with sustained winds of 125-mph and a storm surge that breached the levees of New Orleans.

Government Response

Weak ratings of government recovery efforts in the affected areas is reflected in national views as well. Among all Americans, 60 percent think most of the money spent on hurricane recovery has been wasted, two-thirds rate the government's efforts negatively and half lack confidence in the government's ability to respond effectively to another major disaster.

Criticism is not limited to the federal government. Nationally, more than six in 10 rate the local and state governments negatively. And in the Gulf region overall and New Orleans alike, ratings of the state and local governments' response are about as bad as they are for the federal government.

Still, while governments in general get poor marks, storm victims who had personal dealings with a variety of agencies and aid organizations give those groups, including the much-derided FEMA, more positive ratings.

Positive Ratings of Agencies (among those who dealt with them)
  Gulf New Orleans
National Guard/Army   95%   94%
Charities (not Red Cross)   91   90
Police/Fire   86   69
Red Cross   85   81
Insurance Cos.   72   50
FEMA   60   52

More than eight in 10 New Orleans residents personally dealt with FEMA, and slightly more than half of them say that it did an excellent or good job assisting them; FEMA got a 60 percent positive rating from Gulf Coast residents who dealt with the agency. But other agencies -- the National Guard, local emergency responders, the Red Cross and other charities -- all are rated much higher.


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