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Poll: Effects of Katrina differ by race

Storm affected black New Orleans residents more than whites

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New Orleans (Louisiana)

(CNN) -- Black residents of New Orleans were hit harder than their white counterparts by Hurricane Katrina, but they were also more likely to express optimism about the city's future, according to a poll released Monday.

Fifty-three percent of black respondents in the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll reported they lost everything when Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast August 29, compared with 19 percent of white respondents.

And 52 percent of whites said they were never separated from their loved ones, compared with 37 percent of blacks. Twenty-six percent of black respondents said they have been reunited after being separated from those they lived with; more than a third, 35 percent, said they were still separated.

Overall poll results, not separated by race, showed 67 percent of respondents believe their lives will return to normal at some point. Asked how long that will take, 41 percent estimated between one and five years. Thirty-one percent predicted their lives will never return to normal.

And a majority -- 57 percent -- estimated the city will return to normal. Of those, 39 percent estimated it would take one to five years. Viewed along racial lines, 67 percent of black residents said New Orleans would return to normal, compared with 52 percent of whites.

Fifty-five percent of black residents -- but only 35 percent of white residents -- said that the low-lying areas most affected by the flooding should be rebuilt as they were before Katrina.

In all, 804 current residents were surveyed February 18-26 through calls to home or mobile telephones registered in New Orleans. The overall margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The racial breakdown of interviewees was: 399 whites and 311 blacks. The rest were of other races or did not divulge their race. The margin of error for questions tallied along racial lines is plus or minus 6 percent.

The possibility of another hurricane striking the city has 88 percent of residents very or somewhat worried, although 54 percent said they believe New Orleans is prepared to deal with a small hurricane and 51 percent said, after rebuilding, the city would be able to deal with a major hurricane.

Fifty-one percent, however, said they were less confident about the city's levee system after seeing the devastation done by Katrina.

Poll respondents ranked home repairs as the biggest obstacle facing current New Orleans residents, with 69 percent saying that was a very or somewhat serious problem.

Next were housing (63 percent), medical care (58 percent) and basic services such as garbage collection, public transportation, electricity and clean drinking water (53 percent).

Nearly half -- 47 percent -- said the availability of restaurants is a very serious or somewhat serious problem, while 36 percent lamented the availability of good jobs.

Crime is also a serious concern, the poll showed. Forty-four percent said they were worried about their home being burglarized. The same amount said they were concerned for their personal safety at night.

More than three-fourths of poll respondents -- 78 percent -- said they want to stay in New Orleans, and 52 percent said they will definitely do so. Another 25 percent said they want to stay but may have to leave.

As for this week's Mardi Gras celebration, 49 percent of respondents said the Carnival should be celebrated the same as in previous years. Twenty-six percent said they preferred a more low-key Mardi Gras.

Along racial lines, 58 percent of white residents said Mardi Gras should be the same as previous years, compared with 37 percent of black residents. Thirty-seven percent of blacks and 10 percent of whites said it should not be held at all.

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