New Orleans through Katrina and Now

India Blake, reporter

2015 marks ten years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, but in the years since the destruction displaced families, destroyed homes, and took lives; New Orleans has bounced back spectacularly in a way only NOLA could.
On August 29, 2005 a category three hurricane slammed into the gulf coast, flooding the streets and crumbling buildings. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying New Orleans, but Hurricane Katrina still affected them and continues to today. Many lost their homes, some lost their lives. 10 years on, the city is still recuperating, but one thing that wasn’t destroyed was the spirit that New Orleans is famous for.
“I moved from there when I was a baby, so there was no devastation in NOLA at the time,” high school senior Zara Ahmad said.
Physically, New Orleans looks similar now to how it did pre-Katrina, but while the storm slammed the city it flooded streets, knocked down trees, and demolished buildings. It cost $108 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
“There were cars and construction signs everywhere in the street. It was jam-packed,” senior Brandon Lawry said.
The population of New Orleans fell from 484,674 before Katrina (April 2000) to an estimated 230,172 after Katrina (July 2006) as people evacuated, according to demographics data website The Data Center.
“I didn’t personally know many other people who moved but a lot of my family moved; we lived on the same street,” Lawry said.
Some of those who didn’t leave suffered a worse fate. The final death toll was at 1,836, primarily from Louisiana (1,577) and 238 from Mississippi. The news of the losses and destruction of the hurricane left thousands more brokenhearted, especially those who used to call Louisiana home.
“When I heard about how devastating it was I was terrified because I visit New Orleans a lot since I have family there; knowing that the little town that I call my second home was in ruins was indescribable,” Ahmad said.
To prevent the city from being in ruins again, measures have been taken to improve the infrastructure and rebuild the communities, according to the organization Rebuild Together New Orleans.
“FEMA has also committed over $800 million to rebuild infrastructure which will help rebuild schools, strengthen police resources, and make necessary levee improvement,” Rebuild Together New Orleans said on their website.
One thing that miraculously survived the disaster is that famous New Orleans personality that earned it the nickname the Big Easy. Tourism is thriving in New Orleans, with thousands of people coming from all over for the food, festivities, and history.
“There’s a lot of tourism, it was always like that, but I think there’s more now because it was monumental,” Lawry said.