At Least 100,000 Katrina Victims Still Separated From Families

by David W. Moore

Half of victims who requested Red Cross aid still living in temporary housing or shelter

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Six weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and surrounding areas, a special CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey of hurricane victims finds many still separated from their families, including a large number of parents still not reunited with their children. Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs and their homes, and many are concerned about the possibility of another Katrina-like disaster. Though New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is now urging residents of the city to return to their homes, many apparently will not do so.

The survey was conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 9, using a random sample of hurricane victims who have applied to the Red Cross for assistance. The Red Cross database includes more than 463,000 names, and the poll interviewed a random sample of 1,510 of these people by telephone, some by landline and others by cell phone.

Some of the major findings:

  • Half of this group reported that they were separated from other family members for at least a day as a result of Katrina, and 22% -- which projects to more than 100,000 -- say their families are still not reunited. The actual number among all hurricane victims could be higher, because the survey included Red Cross applicants only.
  • Six percent of parents with children under age 18 who have applied for Red Cross aid are still not reunited with their children. That translates into almost 15,000 parents, which could even be higher once parents who have not applied for Red Cross aid are taken into account.

In addition to being separated from family members, the poll also assessed the extent to which these hurricane survivors experienced other hardships:

%

Worried about elderly family members living in the path of the hurricane

73

Feared for your life

53

Were separated for at least a day from family members you had been living with

51

Had a vehicle damaged

41

Went without food for at least a day

40

Went without drinking water for at least a day

34

Spent at least one night in an emergency shelter

25

Lost a pet or had to abandon one

20

Were a victim of a crime

7

Were physically injured or hurt

6

  • Thirty-two percent of the sample of Red Cross applicants -- projectable to about 150,000 people -- say that the home or apartment they were living in either was destroyed or damaged so badly they cannot live in it.
  • While half of the Red Cross applicants are now living in the same place they were before the hurricane hit, 25% (116,000 people) are living in someone else's home, 13% (60,000) are living in an apartment or house they rented after the disaster, 8% (37,000) are still living in a hotel or motel, 2% (9,000) in an emergency shelter, and 1% (4,600) in a camper or trailer.
  • Most of the people living in someone else's home are living with other family members (66%), while 25% are living with friends, and 9% with people they didn't know before the hurricane.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 respondents say they were employed before Katrina hit, but only 62% of that group is currently employed. Thirty-seven percent of the previously employed (116,000) do not have a job at the present time.
  • The vast majority of these victims, 81%, think it is likely that another natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina will hit their communities again at some point in their lives. Forty-nine percent say that is very likely to occur; another 32% say somewhat likely.
  • Given the fears, it is perhaps surprising how many people expect to return to their communities. About half, 51%, are already back there, while another 14% say they will definitely return and 13% say they will probably return. Nineteen percent are skeptical that they will go back -- 8% say they definitely will not, and 11% say probably not.
  • While the New Orleans mayor is urging all residents to return, 16% of New Orleans residents who applied for Red Cross assistance (more than 21,000) say they will definitely not return, and another 23% (31,000) say they probably will not return.

There was much controversy as to why many people did not evacuate their homes before the hurricane and floods hit. Among the people surveyed, 67% say they evacuated before the storm hit, 3% did so during the storm, 15% did so after it had passed, while 15% did not evacuate at all.

Among those who did not evacuate before the storm hit, the most frequently cited reasons given fall into two categories: 1) misjudgment, and 2) difficulty in leaving.

The misjudgment category includes: the misperception that the hurricane was not going to be as bad as it turned out to be, that the respondents' homes could withstand the force of the storm, that they were safely far enough away from the coast, and that they waited until the last minute and it was too late.

The difficulty in leaving category includes: trying to keep the family together, having no transportation, not having enough money to leave, having no place to go, needing to work, not being informed, not having enough gasoline, and being in poor health.

What are some of the reasons why you did NOT evacuate BEFORE Hurricane Katrina hit? [OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON 492 RESPONDENTS WHO DID NOT EVACUATE BEFORE HURRICANE KATRINA HIT (± 5 PCT PTS)

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

%

%

Misjudgment

57

Didn't think it would be that bad/prior hurricanes not as bad as predicted

40

Thought my house structure was sound/could withstand it

7

Thought our distances from the coast was safe

7

Waited until the last minute and it was too late

5

Difficulty in leaving

39

Was keeping family together

7

Had no transportation/not reliable

6

Couldn't afford to leave/No money

6

No place to go

5

Had to work

5

Wasn't fully advised on what to do/Not a mandatory evacuation

5

Availability of gas/Afraid would be stuck in traffic without gas

3

Poor health/Couldn't due to medical issues

2

Had to stay and protect my property/possessions/animals

5

Faith in God/Put destiny in God's hands

2

Stubborn/Hard-headed/Didn't want to leave

2

Other

5

None

1

No opinion

1

Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

Survey Methods

This poll was conducted in cooperation with the American Red Cross.

Results are based on telephone interviews with a sample of 1,510 adults, aged 18 and older, drawn randomly from the American Red Cross database of applicants seeking assistance due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Interviews were conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 9, 2005.

The vast majority of applicants provided a working contact telephone number to the Red Cross. Gallup did reverse phone lookups to obtain telephone numbers for the portion of the selected sample that did not provide a contact number. Where necessary, Gallup interviewers tracked down updated telephone numbers when respondents had moved from their previous location. Interviews were conducted on both landline and cellular telephones. Full details on the poll methodology can be found at poll.gallup.com.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

6. Have you been reunited with all of the other members of your family, or are you still separated from some of them?

BASED ON 763 RESPONDENTS WHO WERE SEPARATED FROM OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS (± 4 PCT PTS)

Reunited
with all

Still separated
from some

FAMILY
MEMBER
DIED (vol.)

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

56%

44

*

*

(vol.) = Volunteered response

7. Do you know where these family members are, or are you still unsure of where they are?

BASED ON 333 RESPONDENTS WHO ARE STILL SEPARATED FROM OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS (± 6 PCT PTS)

Know where
they are

Still
unsure

FAMILY
MEMBER
DIED (vol.)

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

66%

32

2

*

(vol.) = Volunteered response

FULL SAMPLE: COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.5-7)

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

%

Never separated from family members

49

Separated, but now reunited with all family members

28

Still separated from some family members , know where they are

15

Still separated from some family members, don't know where they are

7

No opinion

1

D19. Do you personally have any children under age 18?

Yes

No

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

52%

48

*

8. Were you separated at any time from any of your children who were living in your household, or not?

BASED ON 414 PARENTS WHO WERE SEPARATED FROM OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS (± 5 PCT PTS)

Yes, was
separated

No,
was not

CHILD
DIED (vol.)

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

42%

58

--

--

(vol.) = Volunteered response

9. Have you been reunited with all of your children, or are you still separated from some of them?

BASED ON 175 PARENTS WHO WERE SEPARATED FROM THEIR CHILDREN (± 8 PCT PTS)

Reunited
with all

Still separated
from some

CHILD
DIED (vol.)

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

71%

29

--

*

(vol.) = Volunteered response

COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.8-9):

BASED ON 789 PARENTS OF CHILDREN UNDER AGE 18 (± 4 PCT PTS)

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

%

Never separated from children

78

Separated, but now reunited with all children

16

Still separated from some children

6

No opinion

*

10. As a result of Hurricane Katrina, to what extent are you currently experiencing -- [RANDOM ORDER] --a great deal, quite a bit, some, very little, or none?

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9
(sorted by "great deal")

Great deal

Quite
a bit


Some

Very little


None

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

%

Trouble sleeping

22

16

23

15

23

1

Feelings of anxiety

20

18

28

17

16

1

Feelings of depression

20

15

28

17

19

1

Next,

11. Did you evacuate your house or apartment BEFORE Hurricane Katrina hit your local area, AFTER it hit, or did you not evacuate your house or apartment at any time?

Yes,
before

Yes,
after

YES,
DURING (vol.)

No,
did not

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

67%

15

3

15

--

(vol.) = Volunteered response

12. What are some of the reasons why you did NOT evacuate BEFORE Hurricane Katrina hit? [OPEN-ENDED]

BASED ON 492 RESPONDENTS WHO DID NOT EVACUATE BEFORE HURRICANE KATRINA HIT (± 5 PCT PTS)

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

%

%

Misjudgment

57

Didn't think it would be that bad/prior hurricanes not as bad as predicted

40

Thought my house structure was sound/could withstand it

7

Thought our distances from the coast was safe

7

Waited until the last minute and it was too late

5

Difficulty in leaving

39

Was keeping family together

7

Had no transportation/not reliable

6

Couldn't afford to leave/no money

6

No place to go

5

Had to work

5

Wasn't fully advised on what to do/not a mandatory evacuation

5

Availability of gas/afraid would be stuck in traffic without gas

3

Poor health/couldn't due to medical issues

2

Had to stay and protect my property/possessions/animals

5

Faith in God/put destiny in God's hands

2

Stubborn/hard headed/didn't want to leave

2

Other

5

None

1

No opinion

1

Percentages add to more than 100% due to multiple responses.

13. Thinking now about the house or apartment you were living in immediately BEFORE Hurricane Katrina hit, was your house or apartment -- [ROTATED: completely destroyed, damaged so badly that you cannot live in it, damaged, but you can still live in it, not damaged at all], or are you unaware of the condition of your house or apartment?


Completely destroyed

Damaged, cannot live in it

Damaged, can still live in it

Not damaged at all

Unaware of condition


No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

10%

22

51

9

8

*

14. Did you own or rent that house or apartment?

Own

Rent

OTHER
(vol.)

No opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

57%

39

4

*

(vol.) = Volunteered response

15. How likely do you think it is that the community you lived in when Hurricane Katrina struck will be hit at some point in your lifetime by another natural disaster as bad as Katrina -- very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not likely at all?

Very
likely

Somewhat
likely

Not too likely

Not likely at all

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

49%

32

9

4

6

Thinking about your current situation,

16. Which of the following best describes where you are currently living - [ROTATED: in the same home you lived in before Hurricane Katrina, in someone else's home, in an emergency shelter, in a hotel or motel, in an apartment or house that you rented after Hurricane Katrina hit, or are you living somewhere else?

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

%

In the same home you lived in before Hurricane Katrina

50

In someone else's home

25

In an apartment or house that you rented after Hurricane Katrina hit

13

In a hotel or motel

8

In an emergency shelter

2

In a camper/trailer

1

Somewhere else

1

No opinion

*

17. Are you now living in the home of a relative, a friend, or someone you did not know before Hurricane Katrina?

BASED ON 348 RESPONDENTS WHO ARE LIVING IN SOMEONE ELSE'S HOME (± 6 PCT PTS)


Relative


Friend

Someone you did not
know

No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

66%

25

9

*

Turning now to your employment situation,

18. Did you, personally, have a job immediately before Hurricane Katrina hit, or not?

Yes

No

No opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

69%

31

*

19. Which best describes your current employment situation - [ROTATED: you are still at the same job you had before Hurricane Katrina hit, you have a new job that is just as good as the job you had before the hurricane, you have a new job, but one that is not as good as the job you had before the hurricane, (or) you do not have a job at the present time]?

BASED ON 1,033 RESPONDENTS WHO HAD A JOB IMMEDIATELY BEFORE HURRICANE KATRINA HIT (± 3 PCT PTS)


Same job
as before

New job that is
just as good

New job that is
not as good

No job at the
present time


No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

55%

4

3

37

1

FULL SAMPLE: COMBINED RESPONSES (Q.18-19)

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

%

Working before Hurricane Katrina hit

69

(Still at same job)

(38)

(Have new job, just as good as old one)

(3)

(Have new job, not as good as old one)

(3)

(Not working at present time)

(25)

Not working before Hurricane Katrina hit

31

No opinion

*

22. As of now, which best describes your plans for the future - [ROTATED: you will definitely return to the community in which you lived before Hurricane Katrina hit, you will probably return to the same community, you will probably NOT return to the same community, (or) you will definitely NOT return to the community in which you lived before Hurricane Katrina hit]?

ALREADY RETURNED (vol.)


Definitely return


Probably return


Probably not return


Definitely not return


No
opinion

2005 Sep 30-Oct 9

51%

14

13

11

8

3

(vol.) = Volunteered response

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/19225/Least-100000-Katrina-Victims-Still-Separated-From-Families.aspx
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