I like figures. They aren't biased (although their interpretation can be), they can expose interesting relationships between phenomena, and can immediately relate a lots of information about a situation. In a post-catapstrophe recovery situation, they are the best indicators of progress on almost any issue. The folks at the Brookings Institution know this, and have been collecting data relating to the recovery and releasing it as the Katrina Index on a monthly basis since January 2006. You can sign up to get one email a month when a new index is released.
Here's a link to the page with May's Katrina Index and all past Katrina Indices.
Here's some interesting facts from the May 2007 Index:
As of February 2007, The Orleans Parish population had reached 26,165, still far below the 66,372 living there in October of 2004.
"The average sales price for single family homes in the New Orleans region continues to climb above pre-Katrina values in the outer parishes while generally remaining stable in the core. Specifically, home values in Jefferson Parish, Plaquemines Parish, and St. Tammany Parish are now at or above the values in August 2005. The exceptions are on the east bank of New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish where average home values remain lower than those prior to Katrina."
Residential building permits issued by the City of New Orleans increased by 1,426 this month, the highest one-month volume since last October 2006.
Newly available delivery statistics from the U.S. Postal Service suggest that the population of New Orleans and the metro area continues to grow. Active residential deliveries in Orleans Parish grew to 61.9 percent of pre-Katrina levels in March 2007 from approximately 49.5 percent since last August. Meanwhile, postal deliveries to residential addresses for the 5-parish region have increased from 76.5 percent to 81.1 percent over that same 7-month period.
One additional public school opened in Orleans Parish this past month, but 70 schools remain closed.
The New Orleans area continues to struggle with only 64 percent of its health care facilities now open. And no additional state-licensed hospitals have reopened since October 2006.