Katrina One Year Later

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Monday, August 28, 2006 - 1:00am

Katrina One Year Later

For some reason, I have always followed hurricanes very closely.  I guess you can call it a dorky habit, but I've always paid attention to them.  However, when Katrina was strengthening in the Gulf of Mexico, I was attending my best friend's wedding.  I did not go near a television.  I knew Katrina had crossed Florida as a Category 1 storm and had gone into the Gulf, but had lost track after that.  So when I learned that Katrina was a Category 5 and headed straight for New Orleans, I was immediately horrified.

 

   One of the first things you learn when following hurricanes is that New Orleans is the worst possible location for a hurricane to hit.  As we all now know, it is a city predominantly under sea level.  If you have been to New Orleans in the past, you will immediately notice that you literally have to look up to the river.  It is an eerie feeling.

 

After Katrina came ashore and breeched the levees, 80% of the city flooded.  Homes were destroyed, people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.  Mississippi was also devastated.  Gulfport took a direct hit from Katrina and hammered the entire coastal area. 

 

Many mistakes were made by local, state, and federal government in the days and weeks after the storm.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but we will focus on that at another time.  For now, we look at where New Orleans is today and whether it can ever get back to the way it was.

 

The video above is long, but it tries to show the level of destruction of the neighborhoods.  It is very sobering.  The people that have been to New Orleans in the last year cannot emphasize enough that photos do not nearly tell the story.  Mile after mile after mile has been obliterated and no amount of media coverage can demonstrate that.

 

The French Quarter and other tourist spots have recovered, but the bulk of the city is still in ruins. The Lower 9th Ward is virtually wiped off the map and it is not alone.  It has received the most national attention and rightfully so, but other parts of town are just as devastated.  From St. Bernard Parish to Gulfport to Lakeview, entire neighborhoods are gone.

 

The most telling statistic about the city is the population.  Before Katrina, the population of New Orleans was 480,000.  Now it is less than 200,000.  That is staggering.  There is simply nothing to come back to.  Federal money has just now started to go to the right places, but it may be too little, too late.  Residents have moved anywhere from Houston, Texas to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

 

Ten years from now, we may be able to get a better assessment of the city, but not now.  One year later, the future is still very much unknown.

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