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10/09/2005

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Bill Harshaw

Dr. Becker's comments seem to be based on the media reporting and possibly on projecting stereotypes onto the New Orleas situation. As time goes back, we are learning the limitations of the media and the ways in which the area is unique.

Gallup reported yesterday on CNN that, of those who stayed in New Orleans, 45 percent though they could ride out the storm and only 25 percent lacked transportation/money to leave. Individuals made choices based on available information. Don't recall that Gallup asked whether people stayed because they thought the government would evacuate them before the flood.

I picked up the factoid that in the Lower Ninth Ward although a third are below the poverty level, 60 percent own their own homes. That ownership figure is well above the national average for blacks. That seems to be a function of the social stability of the area; people just don't leave the Big Easy. (True of both white and black--see the Michael Lewis piece in the NYTimes Mag last Sunday.)

There's also some evidence that New Orleans should have been safer than it was--that problems in the soils the flood walls were built on caused their failure, not water overlapping the top.

All in all, caution in drawing conclusions is warranted.

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