Hurricane Katrina

Find stories from WWNO, NPR and our partner stations as we explore New Orleans and the Gulf South 10 years after Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

A before-and-after look at the Orpheum Theater, which was damaged and shuttered by Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters.
Orpheum Theater / Instagram

The Orpheum Theater in New Orleans' Central Business District has reopened, 10 years after the facility flooded during Hurricane Katrina and after $13 million in renovations.

WWNO's Eileen Fleming has this look at the people who got together to buy and renovate the historic theater.

The Orpheum Theater has reopened after 10 years.
The Orpheum Theater

After ten years of post-Katrina concerts in other venues, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra returns to the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans' Central Business District to open its 2015-16 concert season.

While driving to his studio in New York's Rockaway Beach neighborhood, artist Christopher Saucedo looks out across Jamaica Bay. He sees a glittering Manhattan and the spire of the new World Trade Center gleaming in a cloudless sky.

"Obviously, where it stands there were once two other very tall towers," the art professor says dryly.

Ten years ago, actor Wendell Pierce went home for a vacation between recording seasons of the hit HBO show The Wire.

As he stepped off the plane in New Orleans, the airport was chaotic. A massive hurricane called Katrina was closing in on the city.

"I was telling my parents 'Nah, let's just ride it out. Let's just stay,' " Pierce tells NPR's Arun Rath. "I went out that Saturday night and I kind of bluffed my parents and said 'Well, if they make it a mandatory evacuation, we'll leave.'

"That Sunday morning they did, and that's when I knew it was serious."

Ten years ago this week New Orleans was under water. A decade later, people who survived the flood are still turning to art to make sense of Hurricane Katrina’s fury.

Several of the city’s major museums have acknowledged the anniversary with new exhibits, including one at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

On the morning of Aug. 28, 2005, the National Weather Service issued an urgent weather alert.

"Devastating damage expected," the message read. "Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks ... Perhaps longer."

A day later, on the morning of Aug. 29 — 10 years ago Saturday — Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. By that afternoon, the storm had slowly moved on. It appeared that the worst was over.

When Hurricane Katrina burst through the levees in New Orleans 10 years ago, floodwaters instantly rendered thousands of homes uninhabitable.

At the peak of the housing crisis that followed, nearly 12,000 New Orleans residents were homeless. They lived on the streets and in ruined buildings.

Abbott Roland was one of them. After the storm, he was rescued by helicopter from his porch, slept in the Superdome with other flood victims and then moved for a time to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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The "official" Hurricane Katrina bus tour is a big tourist attraction in New Orleans. But another kind of storm tour recently took off — more of a Katrina "reality" tour, documenting the last decade of the New Orleans school system.