WASHINGTON – Four in 10 residents of New Orleans (search) who sought Red Cross (search) help after Hurricane Katrina (search) say they don't expect to return home — an exodus that could dramatically change that city, a poll of those hurricane survivors found.
Blacks were twice as likely as whites to say they would not return. Almost nine in 10 whose homes are no longer livable say they don't expect to return, the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll found.
The poll indicates tens of thousands of Gulf Coast-area residents are pondering whether to go back to their homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama or relocate, according to the poll released Thursday night. Two in 10 said they would definitely not or probably not return to the hurricane ravaged areas, while another 13 percent said they probably would return home.
The hurricane that leveled many coastal communities along the Gulf Coast and inundated New Orleans at the end of August has left many people still struggling to get a grip on their emotions, the poll found.
A majority of those polled said they still harbor feelings of depression, sadness, anger and stress more than a month after the hurricane hit. They were asked in an open-ended question what kind of emotions they have been feeling in recent days — and a fourth of those polled said they were feeling better or almost normal.
Asked how they felt when the hurricane hit, more than eight in 10 said their feelings ranged from terror to sadness to feeling anxious and lost.
Among the poll's other findings.
—Asked what helped them get through the hurricane and recovery period, people mentioned family most often, followed by faith.
—Three-fourths said they had feared for the life of elderly relatives as the storm moved through.
—Nearly four of 10 who had jobs are out of work.
—Half said they had feared for their own lives, and half said they had been separated for at least a day from a relative they had been living with.
—Four in 10 went without food for at least a day, and almost as many went without drinking water for a day.
—Almost half, 44 percent, of those who had been separated from family members said they were still separated from a member or members of their family.
—More than a third said they are having trouble sleeping and experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression.
—A third said their home was either destroyed or damaged so badly they couldn't live in it.
—Half of those polled said they were either living outside their own home — either with a friend or relative in a home or apartment rented after the storm, or in a motel or shelter.
The sample was drawn from a database of people who applied for help from Red Cross and interviews were done on landline phones and by cell phone.
The poll of 1,510 adults among the 470,000 who registered for help from the Red Cross was taken from Sept. 30-Oct. 9 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.