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Katrina could prompt new black "migration"
Updated: 2005-09-06 07:03

HOUSTON - If refugees end up building new lives away from New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina may prompt the largest U.S. black resettlement since the 20th century's Great Migration lured southern blacks to the North in a search for jobs and better lives. Reuters reported.

Katrina could prompt new black
Residents of the Bywater neighborhood speak to a National Guard soldier who was evacuating residents by bus in New Orleans September 4, 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. [Reuters]
Interviews with refugees in Houston, which is expecting many thousands of evacuees to remain, suggest that thousands of blacks who lost everything and had no insurance will end up living in Texas or other U.S. states.

Officials say it will take many months and maybe even years before the birthplace of jazz is rebuilt.

"We advise people that this city has been destroyed," New Orleans Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley told reporters on Monday. "We are simply asking people not to come back to this city right now."

Many evacuees like Percy Molere, 26, who worked in a hotel in New Orleans' famed French quarter, say they cannot keep their lives on hold for very long.

"If it took a month, I'd go back, but a year, I don't want to wait that long," said Molere. "Hopefully we're going to stay in Houston just to stay out of New Orleans" for the time being.

Experts caution that it is too soon to clearly predict the long-term impact of the devastation of New Orleans, a city of less than half a million people more than two-thirds of whom are black. But one scenario would be massive resettlement elsewhere.

"You've got 300,000, 400,000 people, many of them low income without a lot of means, who are not going to have the ability to wait out a year or two or three years for the region to rebuild," said Barack Obama, the only black member of the U.S. Senate.

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