updated 10/5/2006 11:44:45 PM ET 2006-10-06T03:44:45

Fewer than 190,000 people are living in New Orleans a year after Hurricane Katrina, according to a door-to-door survey released Thursday.

The population of 187,525 is about 41 percent of the 454,000 people estimated to be living in Orleans Parish before the storm hit Aug. 29, 2005.

A spokeswoman for the Louisiana Recovery Authority, Natalie Wyeth, called the results “the definitive, most precise set of numbers we’ve seen.”

The survey was conducted for the authority and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals by the Louisiana Public Health Institute.

It involved a sampling of homes from all over the city, said Alden Henderson, who is with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was involved in pushing for the survey. He said the survey used a method commonly employed by the Census Bureau.

The results are meant to help planners determine where clinics, schools, transit systems and other key infrastructure should be placed, Wyeth said.

Population estimates have ranged widely for New Orleans.

An underestimate?
A local demographer who has studied the city’s population dismissed the latest figures as a “fairly significant underestimation.”

“This is important, because funding decisions are based on population,” demographer Greg Rigamer said.

In a recent report, he estimated there were about 230,000 people in the city. Mayor Ray Nagin has cited a slightly higher figure, and last month said he believed the city was on track to reach 300,000 people by year’s end.

A Nagin spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday, saying officials in the mayor’s office had not yet seen the survey.

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