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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid