Texas should grow, thanks to Katrina

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The census bureau has expectations the population in Texas will climb primarily due to 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

A survey found there were more than 250,000 evacuees statewide a year after Katrina. This region's proximity to Louisiana could lead to increased census counts too.

Chef Larry Wagnon graduated from high school and college in Nacogdoches. After culinary school he worked in the finest New Orleans restaurants. He just didn't have a taste for Nacogdoches as part of his future.

"Never intended to coming back to Nacogdoches, other than to see family. My in-laws are all here and that kind of thing, but never intended on moving back here, pursue anything culinary wise," said Larry Wagnon.

"Same thing that brought a lot of people to Texas, Hurricane Katrina," Wagnon explains.

Those evacuees are expected to bolster the Texas population count.

"So many were sheltered in Nacogdoches. Literally hundreds. It's very probable that a lot of them have made their home in Nacogdoches," said Nacogdoches City Planner Larissa Philpot.

Wagnon, his wife and two kids did. The reason is obvious.

"There wasn't anything to go back to, so most of those people have settled in Houston, Dallas. I know a few in Tyler. Some came here," said Wagnon.

The impact won't be fully known until after the 2010 census, but preliminary studies indicate populations will jump enough to bring additional funding and possibly congressional clout.

"The census numbers, those are the official numbers that go on our population signs. It's what the government uses to district for state, local and federal representation, so the census numbers are really what counts," said Wagon.

"Everything on I-10 between New Orleans and Houston, I expect all those things to have probably grown quite a bit from that," said Wagon.

Right now, Wagnon and his family plan on staying put where they've cooked up a pretty good future.

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