Answer to Map #37

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Answer: This dot map depicts the locations in the city of New Orleans where bodies were found in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in August and September 2005.

Most, but not all, of Katrina’s victims died by drowning in the waters that flooded New Orleans. Many other died of injuries sustained during the hurricane. Five victims on this map were killed by firearms in the chaotic aftermath of the storm.

Katrina claimed many more victims than appear on this map. For starters, the map shows only the bodies found within the city of New Orleans. But levees were breached and inhabited areas flooded throughout southern Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi. This map is just a snapshot of the urban area that saw the most concentrated damage. In addition, there were many victims of the hurricane whose bodies were never recovered. Obviously, it is impossible to include those individuals on our map.

We originally based last week’s map on a map published in an official report by the city of New Orleans about efforts to rebuild, but that map was cut off at the bottom. One of our submitters found a copy of the original map, which we were able to use to add more dots to the southern part of the city.

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina inspired a wide variety of interesting thematic maps. Among the most instructive are this isoline map of the depth of floodwaters in different parts of the city and this choropleth showing the movement of people fleeing affected areas. As you browse maps of the hurricane, you can also reflect on different choices made by cartographers to convey information. Whereas we chose to represent the locations of bodies with a dot map, other mappers presented similar data as a proportional symbol map. You’ll have to decide for yourself which method you think best represents the data.

Our dot map, like so many other types of maps, helps emphasize how disproportionately Katrina affected the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, an especially underprivileged area of the city. But our map doesn’t reflect the consequences of the hurricane that have lingered to this day. Many abandoned lots in the district are now overgrown, and a lot of residents who fled the hurricane never returned.

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