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Lessons learned 10 years after Hurricane Katrina

By Candace Kellner
Staff Writer  

Hurricane Katrina displaced more than a million people along the Gulf Coast and nearly half of the population of New Orleans in 2005. Most residents left due to unemployment or loss of their homes. Others feared another obliterating storm.

Hurricane Katrina 10 Years later
Empty lots fill parts of a city that’s still a work in progress. (AP photo)

Ten years later, families scattered by Hurricane Katrina are still making their way home. In the aftermath of the storm, the Higgins-Chester family, natives of New Orleans, followed different paths, reported NBC. Following the disaster, John Higgins immediately returned to New Orleans with his wife, Carol.

For Higgins and Carol, New Orleans is the only place they will ever call home. His sons, Daniel and Stephen, have also moved back to the city.

Daniel, a 23-year-old medical student, made the decision to study at Louisiana State University in part because he felt as though he owed the city something, he told NBC.

“I feel indebted to the city, to a degree, because the city went through a really rough time and I left it, I was not here,” Daniel said to NBC.

Donna Brazile, vice chairwoman at the Democratic National Committee, recounts the moment she discovered her family would have to evacuate.

“Ten years ago, my niece called me from New Orleans to say, ‘We are leaving,’” Brazile told CNN. “When I asked her what was going on, she snapped, ‘Haven’t you heard? Katrina is coming!’”

Brazile’s father only left New Orleans twice in his life, reported CNN. The first time her father left was to serve in the arrmed forces in the Korean War and the second time was when “FEMA evacuated him to Kelly Air Force Base San Antonia, Texas,” according to CNN.

Brazile told CNN that she hopes that the devastation left by Katrina will not be forgotten.

“On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I’m asking everyone to pause and remember what happened 10 years ago to the city I love so much,” Brazile said.

Brazile is hopeful that Katrina will teach the nation to “commit to building the economy, infrastructure and quality of life” not only for the Gulf Coast, but across America, reported CNN.

However, a recent poll shows that nearly half of Americans still think that the nation is not much better prepared for future natural disasters. According to CNN, the survey shows that 51 percent of Americans said the U.S. is just as vulnerable as it was 10 years ago.

At least 1,833 people died in the hurricane and floods that followed the storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with other natural disaster departments, was criticized for responding slowly to Katrina, according to CNN.

A recent poll also finds that the anger and sadness Americans felt in the aftermath of the floods and deaths have faded. According to CNN, approximately 77 percent said they experienced “sadness” when thinking about Katrina, the devastation and the recovery effort since 2005.

In a survey taken only days after Katrina, 98 percent said they felt great sadness. Today, however, only 39 percent say they feel “anger,” compared to 62 percent who said the same in 2005 after the storm.

Residents of the northeast, effected by Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, say that the nation has not learned from Katrina.

However those in the south, in regions that saw damage from hurricanes Ike and Irene, see the country as better prepared today.


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