Eights years later, many of us are still haunted–even traumatized–by Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. I’m not talking about the Gulf residents; I’m talking about those of us who watched the tragic disaster unfold on the television. The world watched in horror as dead bodies floated in contaminated waters running through streets and desperate victims crying out for help atop roofs.
Katrina remains one of the most deadliest and costliest of man-made disasters. When I visited New Orleans after the storm in 2005, survivors made it clear that the hurricane was the culprit; it was the neglected levees that broke. I’ve been repeating their reframe ever since.
There was about about $81 billion in property damage but the ultimate economic impact on the region is expected to exceed $150 billion. Over 1800 people are known to have lost their lives but that count is in dispute. The exact death toll remains unknown because there are both unidentified bodies plus many missing persons. The project to get all this straightened ran out of money in 2006.
John Mutter, a Columbia University professor, believes the death toll could peak 3500 if the death toll caused by the storm and its many after effects were accurately tallied. Nobody but the affected families seem to be interest in finding out and they hit a brick wall because there’s no where for them to go and get/give information about their loved ones.
I have gone back to New Orleans several times since Katrina hit, particularly to see what, if any, progress have been made in the Lower Ninth, the poorest section of New Orleans and the hardest hit. I can tell you repairs to the Super Dome were done Super Quick as were renovations to the French Quarters. It appears that only those with the means or who won the battle with their insurance company came back to rebuild in the residential areas.
Katrina was a painful lesson for black and poor people in 2005 and it is still painful–whether the media is talking about it or not.