Residents who did not have personal transportation were unable to evacuate even if they wanted to. Approximately 120,000 residents (51,000 housing units x 2.4 persons/unit) do not have cars. A proposal made after the evacuation for Hurricane Georges to use public transit buses to assist in their evacuation out of the city was not implemented for Ivan. If Ivan had struck New Orleans directly it is estimated that 40-60,000 residents of the area would have perished.
Unwilling to merely accept this reality, emergency managers and representatives of nongovernmental disaster organizations, local universities, and faith based organizations have formed a working group to engage additional faith-based organizations in developing ride-sharing programs between congregation members with cars and those without. In the wake of Ivan’s near miss, this faith-based initiative has become a catalyst in the movement to make evacuation assistance for marginalized groups (those without means of evacuation) a top priority for all levels of government.
This article was published in November 2004 and predicts pretty much what happened. It is kind of scary that none of the recommendations were implemented despite the consensus by the experts on the results. The fact that faith-based organizations were developing alternative plans for helping maginalized groups get out of town means that compasionate groups in New Orleans were confident that the poor were going to be left behind to fend for themselves. In this context the rioting and looting we saw on television is a natural outcome. The city government of New Orleans betrayed their people with the greatest need.