Forgotten, Hurricane Katrina damage remains

August marked the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation. Five years later, it seems like it happened just yesterday to many Americans. Some are still going through the effects of the natural disaster today and have been living with the consequences of Hurricane Katrina ever since.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, images of corpses floating in water and thousands of Louisiana residents losing their homes were displayed everywhere. This was also when the Federal Emergency Management Agency drew criticism. As Katrina victims were shown continuously struggling, FEMA was nowhere to be found and criticized because of its slow response.

Five years later, New Orleans is still devastated by Hurricane Katrina - photo by Jocelyn Augustino

Progress has definitely been made in Louisiana, but many people have still been left in the dust and forgotten by both the government and fellow citizens. When Haiti suffered an earthquake earlier this year, no one could watch any news program without seeing or hearing about the damage, but when was the last time that the current status of Haiti was reported? Not recently, that’s for sure.

Only now is the issue of the progress being discussed because of the anniversary, but it’s been a distant memory to those not directly connected to New Orleans in the past 4 years. But who would show concern for a place that doesn’t even seem to have the support of its own community? Right now in New Orleans, tours show the aftermath of the disaster. So how can the damage from the storm be expected to be repaired if it’s used as a tourist attraction to gain both attention and revenue for the government?

One of the most popular locations shown on this tour is the Lower Ninth Ward. This area was not only one of the most damaged neighborhoods, but it was also one of the most poverty-stricken areas of New Orleans prior to Katrina. Also, the lower-income areas of New Orleans were the last to get reconstructed, so with the addition of the Lower Ninth Ward being a tourist attraction, it would be no surprise if this portion of New Orleans never gets repaired and permanently becomes known as simply Katrina’s aftermath.

Many Katrina victims relocated, creating new lives and attempting to pick up where they left off. Now, many Louisianans have adapted to their new environments, but some are still struggling to return to the only home that they know – New Orleans. Even those who have adjusted to their new environment still won’t be able to raise a family in touch with their roots, Hurricane Katrina having disrupted their lineage.

Now, with the recent oil spill on the Gulf Coast, it seems as though Louisiana’s luck hasn’t changed. The economic damage done by the oil spill, along with Louisiana’s struggling economy, has put the well-being of this state’s economy in more jeopardy. This unfortunate circumstance is definitely hard hitting on an economy that primarily relies on seafood like crawfish and catfish.

However, do not assume that nothing was accomplished after Katrina hit. Other portions of New Orleans had been fixed after the disaster and in some areas, you would have no idea that a catastrophe occurred just a few years ago. Some natives of Louisiana affected by the hurricane even took it as a learning experience. When Hurricane Gustav hit 3 years ago, a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans was ordered and not one person stayed behind to ride out the storm. Also, organizations like Habitat for Humanity helped to rebuild the damage, in addition to the aid given by celebrities and volunteers alike.

Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of America’s most devastating natural disasters, putting the economy and the government into perspective. The natives of New Orleans are nothing else if not fighters. From enduring a massive destructive force to relocating all over the country to being a memory in the minds of some fellow citizens, New Orleans has persevered. Even with all this strife and despair, New Orleans’ is still bursting with life every day through its lively jazz music, distinct Cajun food and jovial natives who love life and all it has to offer.

Published Sept. 8, 2010 in “The Signal”


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