The Fifth Anniversary
Five years feels like a long time, or not so long at all, since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi and devastated New Orleans. Many buildings have been rebuilt and many people have returned, but many have not, and may never. Some neighborhoods have never looked better; other areas are returning back to nature. After the ruins were bulldozed, the vegetation grows wild and high.
I arrived four days after the levees broke, and in those first catastrophic days, thousands died and many tens of thousands more were displaced to seek refuge at the Superdome and the Convention Center. Almost the entire city was under water, and the elevated highways were the only lifelines for access on the ground. Helicopters filled the sky, rescuing people off rooftops. The dead were everywhere. It was the worst hurricane for the United States in a hundred years.
Recovery has been hard and slow. New Orleans suffered from many social and economic problems before the storm, and continues to, despite the high hopes for a new beginning. Much work remains to be done. But with its unique architecture, culture, and history, the people of this great American city continue their aspiration and their struggle.
Originally published at http://www.newsweek.com/photo/2010/08/25/katrina-then-and-now.html