Hurricane Katrina has dispersed 1.3 million Gulf Coast households to communities in every state from Maine to Hawaii, according to the first official accounting of the disaster's unprecedented ripple effect. (Map:
Evacuees spread across U.S.)
Some evacuees had no choice in where they were relocated. But the pattern of resettlement also reflects how mobile Americans are and shows long-standing connections among regions of the nation that are often driven by jobs and family ties.
About three-fourths of the households went to Baton Rouge and other communities within 250 miles of New Orleans, the largest city hit by Katrina last month, according to a USA TODAY analysis of records from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Roughly 240,000 went to Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta and other cities within about 500 miles of the battered coast. About 26,000 went to cities such as Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore, 750 to 1,000 miles away. At least 34,000 moved more than 1,000 miles to cities such as Seattle and Boston.
As of Friday, FEMA had received 1.3 million applications for assistance from households in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The applications were filed from 18,700 ZIP codes in all 50 states - almost half of the nation's residential postal zones - since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast Aug. 29. As of Wednesday, federal agencies had distributed $2.4 billion to 688,000 households affected by Katrina.