News / USA

New Orleans Still Recovering From Hurricane Five Years Later

Jackson Square, New Orleans
Jackson Square, New Orleans
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid