Adam Nossiter, who generally has been doing bang-up work as The New York Times' main man in New Orleans, has an item in Sunday's paper about the population in the Crescent City that may never be recovered post-Katrina.
But he may have stretched a little too hard to make a point, and in the process, underestimated the potential gravity of the problem.
The low population figure, 191,000, which was reported by the Louisiana Recovery Authority in November last year in the most credible survey to date, was about half the 444,000 count in a Census estimate before Hurricane Katrina.
Actually, it's about 43 percent, not quite about half. Granted, some people will continue to return and edge that number higher. But Nossiter goes to great lengths to point out that many of those caught up in the hurricane disapora are those least able or inclined to start over again in New Orleans. And this was a city that was already losing 1.5 percent of its population a year before Katrina, the article notes.
As the Nagin administration continues to show signs it's without a clue, that exodus is likely to continue unabated, especially as the problems so long endemic to New Orleans, high crime, crappy schools, a crumbling infrastructure and racism that is persistent if not less pernicious than it might have been, continue to fester.
About half? Maybe, but anyone like myself who's been through areas like the Lower Ninth Ward, Lakeview and Gentilly recently, are dubious that will happen anytime soon.