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Katrina’s Lasting Legacy

Aug 28, 2009
By Lindsey Schneider


 Hurricane Katrina
Barney Kons, electronic store owner, walks out of his looted and flooded store. Photo by Mayra Beltran/Newscom

Saturday, August 29, marks the four-year anniversary of the morning when Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the coast of Louisiana. Within hours, the storm had breached nearly every levee around New Orleans, causing unprecedented devastation—an estimated $89.6 billion in property damage—and an untold number of deaths throughout the region.

We are all familiar with the images and stories that came flooding out of the city in the days, weeks and months that followed. But newly discovered photos and video continue to shed light on the scale and impact of the disaster.

The following montage consists of unaired news footage shot in the wake of the storm.

It makes for uncomfortable viewing, but these are stories we can’t afford to forget.



The convention-center-turned-refugee-camp, the debris-strewn streets, the food and supplies locked away from people in dire need: it is still difficult to believe that these events took place in an American city just four years ago.

And the stories keep coming.

House in New Orleans
In the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the houses built by Brad Pitt’s ‘Make It Right’ Foundation. Photo by Charlie Varley/Newscom

In April, FLYP traveled to New Orleans to visit with James Perry to try to understand why he is running for mayor in the recovering city. A lawyer and former housing advocate, Perry witnessed Katrina’s devastation of St. Bernard Parish, which is located next to the especially hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward. After the waters receded, a surge of discriminative housing practices in the area attempted to shift the demographics from primarily black to primarily white. But in a display of characteristic New Orleans optimism, Perry told FLYP, “I don’t think this city is doomed to a black/white race divide. We are better than that.”

In May of 2008, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told the National Press Club that “we have the chance to rebuild better than it was before.” He called for federal money to reconstruct the levees, the majority of which had been repaired, but still exhibited the same structural flaws that resulted in their initial collapse. President George Bush freed up funds in the 2009 budget to further the rebuilding effort, but said he could not promise the money any sooner than that.

These stories provide a glimpse of life in New Orleans during and after Katrina, and no doubt there are more to come. Let’s hope they help ensure the same mistakes won’t be made again, while helping to move the city that much closer to recovering her former glory.

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I thank you for putting this video, even if it is diffcult to see. In the news now everything happens so fast and then the next day they forget about it. It is important to remember what happened in the past so that it never happens again. And what happened with Hurricane Katrina must never happen again. This experience should help us understand how to organize our resources for the next time, and maybe the local politicians will keep that in mind. But it is good for the public to be reminded of what happened and what is happening now, because we are the ones who elect those politicians. It is important that we never forget. Thanks Frank Deleuze San Francisco, CA

Frank Deleuze
Sep 1, 2009

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