This Saturday marks a somber anniversary as people remember Hurricane Katrina’s devastation and the near eradication of one of the most internationally celebrated cities and a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast. It has been four years since 80 percent of New Orleans went underwater and the Mississippi coast was beaten by waves.
Some blame mayor Ray Nagin for the state of the city, said Pam Davidson, a senior business management major.
New Orleans had never experienced a catastrophe of that magnitude, so judging the mayor’s response was a faulty response, she said.
He responded the best he could with limited power, said Davidson.
“What was the standard in which we applied?” asked Davidson.
More than $100 billion was allotted for rebuilding the region, according to About.com US Politics.
Residents wonder where the money went.
“It’s changed. I barely go home,” said Brandon Ruffin, a junior kinesiology major from New Orleans. “My friends are from Texas. They don’t really have things to do down there.”
There was a mourning period for the city, said Davidson, who compared the aftermath to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Reminiscing put things into perspective for mass communication sophomore Qiyas Smith, also of New Orleans.
“You don’t realize how quickly things can get taken from you,” said Smith. “It’s not ever going to be the same.”
“Visitors don’t understand the intricacies,” said Davidson. “Think about the death of a family member.”
The results extend beyond financial, physical and structural issues.
“Oh it’s just a house,” said Davidson, mocking people who were unaffected by the hurricane. Some residents were so traumatized that they wouldn’t go into the city, Davidson said. Her mother was one of
Ruffin said that his brothers stayed in hotels and the Superdome after the storm. They told him about carcasses lying around and women being raped.
“That was our home,” said Smith, who was disturbed by U.S. assistance for tsunami victims the prior year and lack of consideration for Katrina’s victims.
The official death toll is about 1,200, according to Democracy Now, a war and peace report, while the Hurricane Katrina Web site reported that 1,800 people died after the storm.
Estimates of missing people report thousands who never came home. Of the thousands, about 1,300 children are missing, also according to Democracy Now.
The city’s economy remains aflloat with relatively low unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates. But in post-Katrina New Orleans, residents’ perceptions of their city’s recovery tends to depend on where they live. Some neighborhoods are sparsely populated, even desolate.
While the recovery has been “stronger than anticipated,” the city “will still face challenges to long-term stability and prosperity,” according to a report released Tuesday by GCR & Associates Inc., an urban planning and consulting firm.
However, Katrina didn’t mark the demise of New Orleans or deplete the spirits of its residents.
“People are fighting hard to get back that spark that was there,” said Davidson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.