Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Hurricane Katrina, then and now

Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina tore through a swath of the Gulf Coast, leaving towns flooded, buildings destroyed and thousands without homes. Today, the region looks dramatically different than it did in the aftermath of the storm.


To mark Katrina's five-year anniversary, CNN is embarking on an ambitious project with your help, specifically from iReporters who live in those places affected by the storm. Instead of compiling a simple before-and-after photo gallery, we're instead asking iReporters to visit the places devastated by Katrina and document the scene today. On this assignment page, users can access dozens of CNN photographs taken in the days and months following the hurricane. You can download and print those images, visit the original locations where they were shot, and take a new photo in that spot. Here's the interesting part: We want you to hold up the original photo and line it up with the present-day view.


The end result should look something like this:



Of course, it's necessary to figure out where the original photos were taken for this to work. We got a head start on pinpointing some locations on these maps of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi, but we could still use your help! If you have tips on where an individual photo was taken, share that information in the comments field.


And if you're in the New Orleans area, mark your calendars for an iReport meet-up on Saturday, July 31. More details on that coming soon.


This is an innovative project and we're really excited to see how it will turn out. Big kudos go to Jason Powell and his Flickr group, Looking into the Past, which first inspired this idea.


The deadline for submitting then-and-now photos is Wednesday, August 18. You can get started here. If you have questions, thoughts or feedback, share them below in the comments field. We'll be checking in regularly.

July 21, 2010
Click to view WausauFamily's profile

Excellent project!

July 22, 2010
Click to view TheMoe29's profile

This is a great project idea and I enjoy looking at the Looking into the Past flickr group. It's just sad that there are a lot of places that still look like they did after Katrina hit...abandoned and uncared for. Some areas that were hit in Louisiana still have houses standing with the number of people who died/lived inside still written on them. What's even more sad is that next to some of those same houses, a brand new house stands. It's indeed a strange site. There has been a lot of regrowth, though, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of this project.

July 22, 2010

In response to "The Moe 29" comment above.  My mother lives in the Upper District in New Orleans. The area that got floodrd the worst ond still have writing on the doors like you described is in a little "well to do" community named Lakeview. I visited my mother that Christmas right after Katrina.....and oh my god I saw things that they didn't televise to the general public.  As much as I love New Orleans, the people and of cource their food....("Ahhhhh, my mouth is watering for crawfish. I love sucking those heads"! lol)I would not live there and deal with the stress of hurricane evacuation. Hell No!!!! And wondering if I'll still have a roof over my head to come home to. Thanks, but no thanks 

July 22, 2010
Click to view Davii1775's profile

Seems like a great project.  Although the area does look greatly different it is still nowhere near "recovered".  There is still a long, long way to go.  I'd love to help identify some of the photos if possible, but I don't see them anywhere.  How do we get to the photos that still need to be identified?

July 22, 2010
Click to view JRGraff09's profile

I think that it's both great that this project has begun but also incredibly sad that it's taken this long to get a wonderful, jazz-filled, gorgeous town back on it's feet -- yet our Government is more interested in rebuilding the Middle East. Isn't that nice?

But I must say something that may not sit well with many that low-lying areas, i.e. the 9th ward, are really areas that shouldn't be rebuilt but instead, given back to nature. Naturally speaking, New Orleans is on a delta which is supposed to be able to flood naturally and flow back out. When you build dams and levees you're actually complicating the problem. We need to redesign everything so that the natural elements and processes are allowed to take their course should another major storm arrive. If you just build more levees and rebuild in low-lying areas, I can only promise you that you're setting yourself up for another disaster, one that could be even worse than Katrina.

July 22, 2010
Click to view katie's profile

Hi Davii1775, you can check out the photos here:


Click on the thumbnails to see each photo. We'd love your help in identifying where they were taken!

July 22, 2010
Click to view lyrker's profile

Great idea. I'm looking forward to seeing the project.

July 22, 2010
Click to view lfm1972's profile

Due to trips via my church, I've got quite a few Katrina photos available of the Gulfport, Mississippi region. All I have are "then" photos from November 2005, January 2006, November 2006, and January 2007.


I've not been back due to work and family commitments.


July 23, 2010
Click to view katie's profile

Hi lfm1972. We're love to include your photos from Gulfport into our project! Could you send them to

July 23, 2010
Click to view graceless5's profile

Please be sure to get some pics of the places in new orleans where nothing has been done. I am not critical; I know it will take time. But let's not give the world the impression that everything is back to normal.

July 30, 2010
Click to view ladimaggio's profile

This is so awesome!!!  I have actually been doing this myself here in New Orleans.  I have over 200 pics from all over the New Orleans and MS areas in the months after Katrina.  I have been going around retaking pics of the places from 5 yrs ago.  I will have to go back and insert my pics into them for this.  I love it!!!

August 25, 2010
Click to view question45's profile

I don't understand something. When you cover up the Now photo of an area with the Then photo, you're obscuring what it looks like today. Basically these are just poorly photographed photographs.


It seems a bit strange to not be able to compare the Then and the Now which makes this whole endeavor seem like a waste of time. The Then photos are hiding the Now images. It just seems like the wrong approach to this. How can you compare the two images?

August 25, 2010
Click to view question45's profile

Imagine photographing a person in this manner. You hold up the photo of them when they were younger in front of how they look today so you never see how they look today. What's the point? It just becomes, like I said,  poorly photographed photo of the past. The background is meaningless unless you can see it.

August 25, 2010
Click to view fuzzysquirrl's profile

i absolutely agree with Question 45. I totally get what you are going for, but this just isn't working. The background photo is fairly irrelevent. in some photos, the edges around the photos offer zero information as to what the area looks like now.

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