Aug 11, 2023 - Climate

Louisiana had the worst natural disaster displacement in the country last year

Share who say they were displaced in the last year because of a natural disaster
Data: Census Bureau; Map: Axios Visuals

Louisiana had the biggest percentage of people who said they were displaced last year because of a natural disaster, per the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.

  • 8.3% of Louisianans said they were displaced in 2022. Nationwide, the average is 1.6%.

Why it matters: Not being able to live in your own home takes a mental and financial toll.

The backdrop: The state has been slammed with back-to-back storms in recent years that have claimed lives and devastated homes, businesses and infrastructure.

  • And the region is bracing yet again. While there's nothing currently brewing in the tropics, August and September are historically the most active months for strong storms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Flashback: Metro New Orleans and southeast Louisiana were hit hard by Hurricane Ida in 2021, which roared ashore as a Category 4 storm and caused an estimated $55 billion in damage in Louisiana.

  • The previous year, Hurricane Zeta made landfall in southeast Louisiana, while Hurricanes Laura and Delta devastated southwest Louisiana.

By the numbers: About 1,300 families are still sheltering in state-funded RV trailers, primarily in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, according to Mike Steele, the spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

  • More families statewide are staying in FEMA-supported trailers, he said, in addition to residents who are still relying on hotels, apartments and friends and family for shelter.

State of play: Hurricanes and the strong winds and flooding rain they bring are also changing home construction in southeast Louisiana, says Dan Mills, CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans.

  • New laws that went into effect this year call for more resilient building requirements, including measures to better waterproof roofs. Builders are also moving away from slab foundations and going with raised piers instead, he told Axios.
  • And nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has changed how it builds homes, incorporating more hurricane-resistant features like hurricane straps, stronger windows, improved nail patterns and better siding materials.

Worth noting: One New Orleanian took it to the next level and designed and built a home entirely out of concrete. He says it's hurricane-proof and bullet-proof.

By the numbers: FEMA continues to issue grants for rebuilding. As of June, the federal agency has allocated more than $1.8 billion to the state for Hurricane Ida recovery.


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