Hurricane Katrina Four-Year Anniversary: Have We Done Enough?

August 21st, 2009, by

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck Florida and the Gulf Coast, breached New Orleans’ levees in multiple locations and flooded 80% of the city. More than 1,800 people lost their lives in the hurricane and floods, and damage estimates hover around $80 billion, making it one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Four years later rebuilding continues.

1) On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the federal government’s latest pledge of $32 million to replace four buildings at New Orleans’ Southern University. The pledge is part of a larger pot of infrastructure funds that the Obama administration has set aside for Louisiana.

2) On Thursday, FEMA urged New Orleans residents, particularly those still living in temporary trailers, to prepare a family disaster plan for the current hurricane season.

(Yes, nearly 1,800 temporary trailers remain in Louisiana four years after Hurricane Katrina.)

3) On Thursday and Friday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) held the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity’s hearings on “access to and maintenance of quality housing in New Orleans four years after Hurricane Katrina.”

During the hearings, Waters said: “It is high time to get serious and get beyond just talking about doing something to help these people: four years after Hurricane Katrina we still have individuals living in trailers, seeking additional benefits, dispersed throughout the country in unfamiliar cities, and disconnected from their families, friends, and their hometown.”

Waters’ remarks and the government’s recent actions raise an important question: Have we done enough to help the Gulf Coast region and New Orleans rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina?

Share your thoughts with us below. Check out Tavis’ conversations with journalist Dan Baum, who chronicled New Orleans’ response to Hurricane Katrina for The New Yorker, and with Alden McDonald, the president of a New Orleans bank damaged by the storm. And visit our post-Katrina special feature page, “Right to Return.”

Last modified: May 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm