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.”

  • Phyllis Montana-Leblanc

    No, enough has not been done. Yes, the French Quarters are up and running and tourists are needed and welcomed to our city of New Orleans. No, enough has not been done. I reside in East New Orleans and we still, after four years do not have a hospital providing emergency services. There are “clinics” that are open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. If you have a life-threatening emergency you have to drive yourself, or call an ambulance to transport you to the nearsest hospital which is in Slidell,La or downtown, which is over four miles. Our areas “Leaders” tell us we should have Methodist Hospital reopened in “possibly” two more years. This should be illegal. My name is Phyllis Montana-Leblanc, I was featured in Spike Lee’s HBO Documentary; “When The Levees Broke.” I am the author of “Not Just The Levees Broke” My Story During and After Hurricane Katrina. Foreword by: Spike Lee. This is the reason why I wrote this first hand account memoir because if you visit The Lowere Ninth Ward, East New Orleans or Gentilly you will see where it looks, in many areas like Hurricane Katrina hit last week. There was a story printed the local paper; The Times-Picayune of $25Million being allocated for hospital. Where is it? We don’t know. Nobody knows. Nobody’s asking any questions. HELL NO! ENOUGH IS NOT BEING DONE 4 YEARS SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA. BLACK PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE BEING DEMOLISHED. EVERY SCHOOL I ATTENDED IN NEW ORLEANS SITS EMPTY AND SURROUNDED BY GRASS, MEMORIES AND LOST HOPE. PHILLIS WHEATLEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL(CLOSED)AND SLATED FOR DEMOLITION, MCDONOUGH #31(CLOSED) AND SLATED FOR DEMOLITION, MCDONOUGH #28 (CLOSED) AND SLATED FOR DEMOLITION. MANY PEOPLE ARE STILL NOT BACK HOME BECAUSE OF PRICE-GOUGING OF RENTAL RATES, MY MOTHER IS ONE OF THEM, AS WELL MY MOTHER-IN-LAW. RATES DOUBLED AND IN SOME CASES TRIPLED. THE PEOPLE HERE ARE MOTIVATED TO LIVE HERE AND TO GET BACK HERE, BUT THE SO CALLED LEADERS ARE FIGHTING BACK AGAINST LIFE-TIME RESIDENTS RETURNING HOME. WE HAVE SOME “LEADERS” REFUSING HOUSING MONEY FOR MIXED-INCOME/LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS FROM F.E.M.A. AND THESE ARE BLACK REPRESENTATIVES IN MY LIVING AREA!! GOD WILLING AND THE CREEK DON’T RISE, I’M GOING TO COME UP WITH A SOLUTION THAT CAN WORK. I WILL ALWAYS SPEAK FOR NEW ORLEANS, IT FLOWS THROUGH MY BLOOD,IT IS WHERE MY BLOOD, BREATH AND LIFE BEGAN, NEW ORLEANS IS MY HEART BEAT. AND WE ARE NOT LOOKING FOR A HANDOUT AS SOME IDIOTS LIKE TO COMMENT. WE DESERVE A HOSPITAL. NOW, I WAIT TO SEE WHO ELSE REALLY CARES. PEACE. ONE LOVE. I REMAIN, MRS. PHYLLIS MONTANA-LEBLANC. SPEAKING THE TRUTH.

  • Tawana M Williams

    They have not done enough & the gov doesn’t seen to care. I hope those with a public voice remind Americans of the plight of the poor in NO

  • chanhawk

    A lot has been done in New Orleans, however, there are surrounding parishes around the big city that were devastated as well that did not get the attention or resources. Multiple Families who lived on family owned land in separate houses did not get any help because a deed was not in place. Poor people who did not make enough to qualify for an SBA loan in the same situation, did not get anything. Many who were retired,people over 65 had to go back to work because their homes that were already paid for , were destroyed. Families in the “family owned” land category were denied help. A lot of this land dates back so far, there are no written records for it. However, you never hear about those instances. Yes, New Orleans has come back…however, the rest of us in the outlying parishes ( St.Tammany) where the eye passed directly over…are still struggling.

  • Anonymous

    I am outraged by the politicians who are trying to pull off money meant for thousands of Katrina victims for their own gain. They are opportunistically rewriting already-submitted applications in order to reject them and redirect the money. They feel they can get away with this because judicial review has not yet ben established. They are hiding by “sealing” files – making them secret so people cannot see what has been done to their applications. The idea is to discourage as many people as possible from finding out how their applications were rewritten and appealing their turndowns. Then the pols can say that there aren’t many cases left to be handled and ask for the “leftover” money to be rerouted.
    I know precisely what I’m talking about and this situation is even more outrageous when seen in more detail. I once thought that America was a land of due process. Not at this time and this place. We must fight to open the process and have judicial review.

  • joseph mickens

    I feel that more work needs to be done to assist and uplift the residents of New Orleans, La. Community activism plus assistance from entertainers who live in Louisiana would bring about a more positive resolution to the current situation. A benefit concert should be put together and proceeds can go the residents who need immediate assistance.

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