hurricane katrina anniversary

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As the country copes with the horrific flooding from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas coast, we remember another storm with a now infamous name - Hurricane Katrina. 12 years ago tonight, a dire warning went out from the National Weather Service predicting that the incoming Category 5 hurricane would leave much of the New Orleans area with catastrophic damage and anyone exposed to the elements would be killed. Initially, it was thought that the region had dodged the worst of the damage, that was until the sun rose on a city under water. 1,836 people would not survive Katrina’s wrath, over a million people would be displaced, and the City of New Orleans, and for that matter, America as a whole, would never be the same. We look back on this night 12 years ago and remember those we lost, honour those who jumped into the murky waters to save others, and uplift those who lost everything but their life. We promised never again… perhaps it is time to renew that effort.

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This is the long story of a short street: Schnell Drive, two blocks of brick homes in Arabi, La., just east of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish.

When we first visited in the fall of 2005, Donald and Colleen Bordelon were often the only two people on Schnell Drive. They had stayed in their home through the storm and the flood, and through the weeks after when the first floor was still filled with water.

The Bordelons were determined to restore their home. They started working as soon as the water drained away. They continued even as many neighboring brick houses were torn down — even as people talked of turning the entire flood-prone neighborhood into green space. NPR documented their struggles for years afterward.

Today, Colleen Bordelon still lives in the home, joined by her mother-in-law Donna. The population of the surrounding neighborhood has rebounded as some people have returned and newcomers have moved in, building new lives and even new homes amid the remnants of the old.

The Survivors’ Street: 10 Years Of Life After Katrina

Photos: Edmund D. Fountain for NPR

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Hurricane Katrina hit landfall on August 29th, 2005. It was the costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States. Katrina caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas with the largest number of casualties occurring in New Orleans, Louisiana. 10 years on, much has improved but there are still parts of Louisiana in the process of recovery.

This is a copy of the official weather bulletin put out by the U.S. National Weather Service on August 28, 2005. This is perhaps the most dire warning ever put out by the U.S. National Weather Service, and it was almost completely accurate. Areas uninhabitable for weeks. ½ of the homes damaged. 

Human suffering incredible by modern standards.

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans 10 years ago today, the day after this statement was issued. 

Here is a talk by the weather forecaster who wrote this statement. 

This is my favorite Hurricane Katrina aftermath photo by photographer Richard Misrach. I appreciate the fact that someone was trying to maintain a sense of humor or lift people’s spirits in the midst of such a dark and difficult time.

Today I am hoping that all of my Gulf Coast peeps are finally overcoming the trauma brought by that storm. Me, I’ve moved house 10 times in these 8 years. Right now I am realizing that I have not felt settled in all this time.

I still deal with grief that I suppressed that surprises me when it comes out unbidden in a casual conversation about that time. And I’m only beginning to overcome the financial hit that I took. I know I’m not the only one still dealing with the repercussions.

Sending love out to all who are still dealing with this storm’s aftermath after all these years.