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Ten years ago, Ethel Curry rode out Hurricane Katrina in her upended refrigerator as it floated near the ceiling of her home in East Biloxi, Miss. As it went higher, she used a fan blade to break the ceiling tile.

"The rafters were so small, I had to hold on to each side to keep my head above the water," recalls Curry, who is 70 now. "And I stayed there 5 1/2 hours, until the water went down."

Jesse Hardman

This coming week in New Orleans will be packed with press conferences and commemorations as the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s nears. The Lower 9th Ward, considered one of the city's most devastated neighborhoods a decade ago, is seeing more visitors than usual, including city workers and business investors.

Local apparrel and accessory company NOLA Til Ya Die.
Nina Feldman

New Orleans is a city with a lot of nicknames. It’s been known as the Crescent City, the City that Care Forgot and the Big Easy. But there’s a new kid on the block.

Over the course of the past 10 years the name "NOLA" has made its way into businesses, non-profits, websites and even the city government. And while no one doubts its convenience, not everyone is on board with the new shorthand.

As the nation approaches the 10-year anniversary of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina, it’s worth remembering that while New Orleans felt the eye of the storm, Katrina also left 238 people dead in Mississippi, and destroyed 230,000 homes in that state.

How did the Mississippi Gulf Coast recover after such devastation, and what lingering issues still remain? Evelina Burnett of Mississippi Public Broadcasting discusses this with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd.

Ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was the city's Lower Ninth Ward that was hit the hardest.

"I remember coming back home," Lower Ninth resident Burnell Cotlon told his mother, Lillie, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "That was the first time I cried."

"We lost everything," Lillie says.

Gardere, a neighborhood synonymous with poverty, blight and crime, is changing for the better. Overall crime has declined in the last four years. A group of residents are working to make the area safer, smarter and friendlier.


The people of Bayou la Batre, Ala., say you know their town by the four seasons.

"Shrimp, fish, crab and oyster," says Stephanie Nelson Bosarge. "That's your four seasons."

Bosarge grew up here in a house less than a thousand feet from the water — one of nine kids, the fourth generation to work in the seafood industry.

Today all that's left of the house is a concrete slab. Grass and weeds are creeping up over what's left of the oyster run, where a conveyor belt once carried shells between the shuckers.

A first ever multicultural peace march and rally will be held this month in Nacogdoches.

Stephen F. Austin State University’s director of multicultural affairs Osaro Airen organized the event and formed a community-wide multicultural peace committee in the city. He says the event was created in response to nationwide race and culture discord heightened by media attention.

Jesse Hardman

Lots of people who visit New Orleans today are surprised to find the city in such good shape. The rebuilding effort has been long, arduous, and largely successful in most areas (with a few notable exceptions, like the Lower 9th Ward).

New Orleans would not be where it is today without the students, church groups, retirees, professional organizations and lone good souls who gave their time and energy to rebuilding. At least a million people, by one count, and likely many millions. Newcomers poured into the city after the storm, and many became new New Orleanians.

Hurricane Katrina caused widespread devastation and loss of life, and many of those whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged fled New Orleans.

In the months that followed, many of the city's poorest families got even more bad news: The public housing units they called home would be knocked down, even if undamaged by the storm.

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