Remembering Hurricane Katrina 5 Years Later

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When a Category 5 storm knocked out the levees guarding New Orleans Aug. 29, 2005, it created a humanitarian crisis on a scale that had never been seen in this country.

Five years later, the Crescent City -- and many of its people -- still haven't recovered. Many people are still living in Hurricane Katrina's disaster. New Orleans neighborhoods still have many damaged and empty houses.

"One, two, three, four, I think like five people on this block did not come back. And these were neighbors that I've been knowing, neighbors that knew my kids, and I knew their kids," said local resident Jimmy Cooper. "They knew my dog, because I had a big dog running the area here."

Some 100,000 people who evacuated because of the flooding, would like to return, but can't afford to come back. Developers are building new housing, but the dwellings are often too expensive for those who used to inhabit the neighborhoods.

"It's a really sad story that people can't come back to their community that they were born in, their children and all this," said resident Cantrelle Pichon.

Many ruined homes that are blocking development still await demolishing. The agency in charge just can't get to all the deserted houses to tear them down.

"It's just a massive process," said Michael Taylor of Louisiana Land Trust. "We're coming up on the fifth anniversary and as much as everyone would like for things to be completed, it takes a long time to rebuild a city. There's literally thousands and thousands of players, not to mention the individual families in that process. There's a lot of coordination that has to go on with that."

What once were packed urban neighborhoods look more like rural areas now.

"Every red dot on here is a parcel that was active in July 2005, but not today," said Greg Rigamer, CEO of GCR & Associates as he looked at a city map.

Louisiana Mayor Mitch Landrieu isn't satisfied with the pace of the progress, but certainly understands why it's more than an overnight task.

"It's too trite to say that we haven't, we didn't get here overnight, you know, so it's going to take us more than one day to get out of it," Landrieu said. "But in essence, what you're dealing with is a long, slow rebuild. The question is -- are you moving in the right direction or the wrong direction?"

Hundreds of thousands of people have settled in to new lives elsewhere, though adjusting has often been tough.

"We was a part of it," said displaced homeowner Kimberly Watson. "We lost everything, like our homes. We are in a new environment and we have to get used to new people and new things."

Sometimes it's been tough for the cities taking them in -- like Houston, Texas, where 150,000 New Orleans residents fled, and more than 100,000 have stayed.

"We had people brought in who didn't really want to be here," said Alisha Harrell, Houston resident. "But then also we want to be a giving city. We want to be able to help our neighbors in any way we can."

*Originally published on August 27, 2010. 

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.