Friday, August 28, 2009
Letters from New Orleans



Fifth-generation New Orleans resident gumbogrrl writes a letter each year to observe the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated her city and much of the Gulf Coast. She fled New Orleans in August, 2005, taking nothing but her fiancé and two dogs, and her computer and some cherished family letters.


When she came home three months later, her beloved city looked drastically different. “It was very strange to see areas of our city that had no color at all,” she said. “All the brightly colored buildings were black, gray, or shades of brown.”


Four years later, New Orleans is finally returning back to its former glory, said gumbogrrl. She shared photos Thursday from the 9th Ward – one of the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods – that show modern new homes under construction. But she added that the neighborhood is still "utterly quiet" and that there are areas where "you almost feel like your car will be eaten by 7-foot weeds."


The recovery is still slow, but she thinks New Orleans is finally turning a corner. “As I have said in past Katrina letters, our rebuild is marathon not a sprint,” she wrote. “Every few months a grocery store, library or post office opens. New Orleanians rejoice at these events because we know what it is like for them to be gone.”


She said she's also healing. Last year she compared writing her letter to giving birth, saying that "it is very painful, but it is worth it in the end." This year she wrote that she is coming to terms "with the emotional trauma of Katrina." She has started writing her memories down, even though it's still painful. "It’s been a great release for me. Also, it is very important for all of us to document history for future generations," she wrote.

HLN's Chuck Roberts talked to gumbogrrl on Friday, so you can watch the interview here.


Were you affected by Hurricane Katrina? Share your story and check out updates from other iReporters along the Gulf Coast

August 28, 2009

Use severe weather like Katrina to educate your kids about the science behind them. Have them make a Hurricane Katrina in a bottle!

August 29, 2009
Click to view sgrayban's profile

My family was one of the lucky few in their neighbourhood the escaped damage... Only 7 houses on the block was spared, the rest had been completely ripped from their foundations or badly damaged from flood surges.


As I a kid I remember famous landmarks I had visited and grew up to learn about.... they are all gone. When I visited last year I was completely shocked by the devastation and the lack of rebuilding.


The gulf coast will never be the way it was again, many communities will never come back or won't recover.


It's a shame how our own Government is willing to ruin our lives under the guise of "no funds" yet can find the same funds to invade countries and kill people. I have no faith in our current political structure seeing how willing they are to let us suffer.


August 29, 2009
Click to view wolfnjack's profile

I lived on the Gulf Coast (Florida) I experienced hurricaines but never one the strength of Katrina - I can't imagine the heartbreak of the devistation of Katrina - however, by the pictures included, I notice the the new house is built up.  I know that Brad Pitt's project includes homes that have hatches in the roof so as not to trap people in their homes when the water rises.  Clearly lesson's have been learned - However, frankly, I am tired of people bemoaning the government's lack of rebuilding.  Lets see - New Orleans was basically a bowl that was below sea level protected by levees - when the levys broke, the sea came in - it was bound to happen sooner or latter and the fact that the houses are being built up, other people realize it is bound to happen again - the same way the houses built on a chapperal in California are bound to either burn during the seasonal fires or be swept away by mudslides.  It is a chance that is taken when you live in those areas - I grew tired of the cost of homeowners insurance in FL because of hurricaines.  Therefore -I sacrificed the weather I loved to come north to lousy weather - but my house (hopefully) won't get blown away and my homeowner's insurance reflects that. 

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