News / USA

New Orleans Still Recovering From Hurricane Five Years Later

Jackson Square, New Orleans
Jackson Square, New Orleans

Five years ago this Sunday Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast area and caused massive flooding in New Orleans after levees there failed to protect the low-lying city. New Orleans had a population of about half a million people before Katrina, but the population is now about a third smaller. Much of the "Big Easy's" culture and lifestyle has returned, but, it is still a city struggling to recover.

Hundreds of people here came for a recent screening of movie director Spike Lee's new documentary, "If God is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise," a follow up to his film from four years ago "When the Levees Broke."

One of the displaced New Orleans residents featured in both films is Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc. "We have come some ways in a lot of areas and in a lot of areas we are still lacking, we are still needing. In my area of New Orleans East we still do not have a hospital five years later," she said.

The new mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, admits there are still many problems, but he says the city is making a strong comeback. "The thing people need to know about us is that we are still standing and we are still here. We are unbent and un-bowed and the resilience of the people is going to be the thing that resonates for such a long time," she said.

Business is brisk in the French Quarter and at other tourist attractions.

The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused a temporary dip in restaurant visits, but government inspectors say seafood from the Gulf is now safe to eat.

At the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kelly Shulz says the city is still on track to  reach close to pre-Katrina levels of tourist visits. "We are having a fantastic year. When the oil spill happened we wanted to continue that fantastic year, we wanted to continue the momentum. So, although there has not been any oil in New Orleans, we have worked really hard to get the message out that all of the things visitors come to enjoy in New Orleans are unaffected," she said.

French Quarter restaurant owner and hot sauce merchant Andrew Engolio says he is seeing a strong recovery. "I do think business is really thriving in the French Quarter. I think it is doing better than even before Katrina, which is wonderful. We thank all the people who are coming from out of town, all the tourists. It is really helpful," he said.

City planners say post-Katrina New Orleans still counts on a number of strong assets beyond its tourist attractions, including its active port and its many oil and gas operations.

But there are parts of the city where recovery is much slower, where empty concrete slabs in overgrown lots mark where houses once stood.

In the lower Ninth Ward, where many middle-income African-Americans once lived, Katrina's destruction is still evident.

Dolores Wells
Dolores Wells

Dolores Wells and her son are trying to restore and protect this home, but local criminals are making it difficult.

Someone recently broke into her house to steal copper wiring and she now questions why anyone would return here. "People don't come back for the same reasons I want to leave and the main ones are corruption in government and crime, street crime, drugs," she said.

A recent poll showed crime is the number one concern of most city residents and many areas remain blighted. Both government and private funds support rebuilding projects here, like these flood-resistant houses.

But Dolores Wells says bureaucratic delays have blocked her plans to renovate a couple of nearby houses to use as rental properties, after both she and her son invested their own money. "I took some of my retirement money, which I could ill afford to do and we thought we could rent them out to get some income and we could do this... I am very, very discouraged. I am really discouraged," she said.

Five years after Katrina, New Orleans is a mixed picture, with signs of progress as well as stories of heartbreaking  struggles.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs