Was the August 2016 flood that hit south Louisiana especially hard (more so than the 1983 flood) a “Katrina event”? In other words, has the devastation sparked a massive resettlement into other parts of the state (and to other states, for that matter) ?
To answer this question, JMC Analytics and Polling examined changes in voter registration between August 1 and October 1, as the Louisiana Secretary of State publishes up to date voter registration statistics on the first of the month. It then aggregated net changes in voter registration for those two months of August and September into the “flooded parishes” (defined as the 22 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration of August 14) and the parishes that didn’t flood. Thus far, JMC Analytics and Polling has found NO demographic impact – in fact, the rate of increase in the voter population was similar in the “flooded parishes” to the statewide rate of increase, with a slightly greater rate of increase in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Livingston Parishes. Below are some specifics:
- Statewide: 1.1% increase in voter population
- Flooded parishes (defined above): 1.1% increase in voter population (1.2% for Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Livingston)
- Parishes that didn’t flood: 1.0% increase in voter population
Of course, two caveats must be provided:
(1) Since this is a Presidential election year, and the voter registration books will close in six days, the numbers may be distorted some;
(2) The decision to relocate and change ones voter registration is not an immediate one. To illustrate, while there were massive population shifts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (especially in Orleans and Saint Bernard Parishes), it took time for demographic changes to register. St. Bernard Parish immediately started losing voters two months after the storm, and by July 2006 (11 months after the storm), it lost 5% of its voters. It took 16 months for Orleans Parish to lose 5% of its voter population, however, although it’s worth mentioning that there was a brief voter registration spike right before the hotly contested 2006 Mayor’s race that featured incumbent Ray Nagin and (then) challenger Mitch Landrieu, and that spike temporarily halted the decline in the voter registration numbers.
Nevertheless, in the short term, it does not look like there were measurable population changes in the areas hit the hardest by the August flood.