Life Still Difficult In Big Easy Year After Katrina

Posted August 28, 2006 8:59 a.m. EDT
Updated November 10, 2006 9:34 a.m. EST

— The New Orleans most people are familiar with includes the bright lights, jazz music and throngs of tourists along Bourbon Street.

But the New Orleans locals now know is a city undermined by Hurricane Katrina, full of abandoned homes, still trying to make its way back a year after the storm devastated the city.

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    The worst natural disaster in U.S. history in terms of property damage, Katrina damaged or destroyed more than 300,000 homes in Louisiana and nearly 100,000 in Mississippi. The region is recovering over time, but progress is made one house and one block at a time.

    "I feel like New Orleans needs every bit of help right now that we can get from everybody," Jeannie Tidy said as she broke down in tears. "Really, the volunteers have been so wonderful here."

    Tidy lives on the top floor of her daughter's flooded home in Lakeview, La. Floodwaters wiped out about 9,000 homes, or about three-quarters of the community that hugs Lake Pontchartrain, and residents are trying to restore the area block by block.

    "The city is doing nothing, so we're having to do it ourselves," Tidy said.

    About 350,000 people -- half of New Orleans' population -- left after Katrina. Many residents are trickling back, but many more will likely never return because it's not as easy to make it in the Big Easy as it once was.

    The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans sat in the path of rushing water from levees that buckled in the days after Katrina. About 5,000 homes in the neighborhood were destroyed.

    Roy Bradley said his house in the Lower Ninth Ward looks exactly like it did immediately after the storm, and he has no idea what he's going to do about it. He received less than $10,000 in insurance money, which is nowhere near enough to rebuild

    "This is all that I have here, and I'm trying to hold on to it as best as I could," said Bradley, who lives with his family in a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    "I want to move back in my house. I don't want to live in a trailer. It's too small," 10-year-old Daijain Bradley said.

    Despite the hardship, Roy Bradley said he's lucky to be alive -- many of his neighbors died. Yet, he said the city appears to be more concerned about remembering the victims rather than helping the survivors.

    "Lives were lost, so let's get the lives of the people back together first before we put a $1 million monument up in remembrance," he said. "We want to remember. People are grieving, and they want to come home."