Devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans now has a population of just 343,829 people, according to the 2010 Census report. Thats down from an estimated 455,000 people the month before Katrina hit, reports the Times-Picayune ( New Orleans official 2010 census population is 343,829, agency reports, by Michelle Krupa). The New York Times also covers the story ( Smaller New Orleans After Katrina, Census Shows, by Campbell Robertson). An empty house slabsits at the corner of Rocheblave and Flood streets in the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans in this Flickr photo by Paul Schultz (Creative Commons). Google Maps aerial view shows dozens of empty, slabbed lots within a few blocks of this intersection. The Lower 9th Ward has only about 20% of its pre-Katrina population, according to studies by local organizations. Not surprisingly, neighborhoods that were the most badly flooded are the emptiest now, the Times-Picayune reports ( New Orleans neighborhoods that suffered worst flooding lost most residents, census data show, by Michelle Krupa). Studies by consulting firm GCR Associates and by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center show that the Lower 9th Ward lost about 80% of its pre-flood inhabitants, says the Times-Picayune. And although the post-Katrina drop in population was sudden and deep, it was also the continuation of a longer trend, the paper reports: In fact, the bleeding began decades ago. Since hitting its peak population of nearly 630,000 in 1960, the city has lost about 284,000 residents, Allison Plyer of the data center wrote in a summary of her findings. The population drop will likely reduce the citys Congressional representation, reports the Washington Post ( Census shows a far less populous New Orleans, by David Mildenberg): Louisiana will end up with six congressional seats instead of seven because of the lost population, and state legislators are expected to eliminate one of the city s three congressional districts.