Tuesday, October 24, 2006
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI and FRANK BASS
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Though poor and minority neighborhoods suffered the brunt of Katrina's fury, residents living in white neighborhoods have been three times as likely as homeowners in black neighborhoods to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes, according to an Associated Press computer analysis.
The analysis of Louisiana's insurance complaints settled in the first year after Katrina highlights a cold, hard truth exposed by Katrina's winds and waters: People of color and modest means, who often need the most help after a major disaster, are disconnected from the government institutions that can provide it, or distrustful of those in power.
In New Orleans, where blacks made up two-thirds of the 454,863 pre-Katrina population, only about 445 homeowners resolved complaints with the state department. In contrast, the mostly white residents in suburban Slidell resolved more complaints (489) even though their population is 16 times smaller.
Minority distrust in government also shows up in polling. AP-Ipsos polls taken shortly after the hurricane last year showed 56 percent of minorities said they doubted the government could really help them during a disaster.
Aloyd Edinburgh, who lives not far from the Kitchens in the Lower Ninth Ward, exemplifies the problem.
"The best thing I can do is take the money I did receive and go to work," says the old man, his eyes clouded with cataracts. "Am I satisfied? Hell, no, I'm not satisfied ... Am I mad? Hell, yeah, I'm mad. But to complain about it. What's the use?"