Poorest Hit Hardest By Hurricane Katrina

ByABC News
August 30, 2005, 6:13 PM

MOBILE, Ala., Aug. 30, 2005 — -- Hurricane Katrina ravaged much of the Gulf Coast, but it was especially cruel to the poor.

In New Orleans, a third of the residents live below the poverty line. The very poorest live on the lowest land, south of Lake Pontchartrain, where the floodwater is now up to their rooftops.

"It's just a thing that always happens," said resident Joanne Murphy. "The ones that has the least, get hit the most."

Rebuilding will be challenging since most of the families don't have any insurance.

"If nobody gets me any kind of assistance," said Timothy Andrews, who lost his home, "I'm just going to have to do it piece by piece, wood by wood, paycheck by paycheck."

More than 700,000 people in the region live in mobile homes. Unlike wealthier residents who lost boats and beach houses, one in six has no car and no way out of town. They are mostly black, and have since filled the Superdome and every available shelter from New Orleans to Pensacola, Fla.

"This means they are vulnerable in lots of ways," said Louis Kincannon, director of the U.S. Census Bureau. "They live in substandard housing that is not as resistant to damage."

In housing projects in Mobile where there is no power and little money for generators, some residents used a car radio to keep up with developments.

"I used to live with my mother years ago," said resident Vera-Jean Jordan, "and we never did have no generator and no lights, so we just have to deal with it."

Mobile home resident Jalonna Long sought refuge in a hotel with spotty electricity. She has a 7-month-old baby, born premature, who needs a heart monitor and an oxygen machine.

"They are all running on batteries now, but batteries don't last that long," she said.