Katrina’s Toll

It seems that there are an increasing number of natural disasters occurring – some entirely a natural phenomenon and others at least partly man-made: landslides, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis and yes, hurricanes.

Hurricanes are nothing new, and neither is the devastation that they cause. From 1274 to current day, from Japan to the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes have devastated economies and lives for centuries.

People around the world are vulnerable.

It was the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history, causing an estimated 81.2 billion dollars in damages and much more in human suffering. Katrina had been a category 5 hurricane but hit New Orleans as a category 3 hurricane, impacting an area 200 miles in diameter, with maximum winds clocked at 175mph. Hurricane Katrina devastated 90,000 square miles along the Gulf Coast in August of 2005. The anguish felt during and immediately after the storm persists today in each and every survivor, whether or not they have returned to rebuild. In New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward was one of the most impacted neighborhoods. Levee breaches created floodwaters that tore houses off their foundations, threw houses on top of cars, erased blocks upon blocks and left the entire community homeless. Neighbors tell stories of devastating heat, desperate attempts to save family members by hacking holes through roofs to provide air and escape from the fetid floodwaters, hours upon hours, days upon days on rooftops without drinking water in the relentless sun waiting for help. And the wait goes on more than two years later.

More Lower 9th Ward residents owned their home prior to the storm than any other area of New Orleans – a testament to hard work and independence. But this was small consolation, as a disproportionate number also lost their lives to Katrina: either directly to the storm or to displacement – an inability to return to their birthplace.

Having endured the ravages of Katrina, the people of the Lower 9th Ward are proving that, with passion, commitment and collaboration, they can beat the odds. They are ready to represent a city that not only provides a steady stream of culture and soul to the nation, but also provides renewed hope in the triumph of the human spirit.

The people of the Lower 9th Ward are survivors. They are strong. They are united. They are passionate, and the situation they find themselves in - two long years later - needs to be addressed. We need to Make It Right.


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