Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., “an idiot” for saying that the suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina was “nothing in comparison” to the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

“The people of New Orleans and that area, they were hurt but nothing in comparison to what happened to the people in New York and New Jersey,” Reid said on Friday during a speech from the Senate floor.  “Almost one million people have lost their homes; 1 million people lost their homes. That is homes, that is not people in those homes. So I think it is just unfortunate that we do not have the relief for New York and New Jersey and the rest already.”

That comment angered Vitter. “Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents,” Vitter tweeted this morning.

Jon Ralston of Ralston Reports quotes a Reid spokeswoman as saying that the senator was referring to the “economic impact in a more dense metropolitan area….but, of course, he wasn’t in any way underplaying what happened with Katrina in terms of tragic loss of life.”

But both the human and economic cost of Katrina was also far higher than that of Sandy, despite what Reid said. “Sandy devastated some of the nation’s most populated areas, but it didn’t come close to Katrina,” according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Hurricane Katrina, and the flooding that followed when federally built levees failed, kill[ed]  1,833 and caus[ed] more than $145 billion in damage. Sandy has been blamed for 120 deaths and over $80 billion in damage.”

In any case, “comparing disasters is probably never a good idea because regardless of the size it’s a travesty for those directly affected,” the New Orleans paper observed.