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.

WWNO 89.9 FM

A lot changes in 10 years. Here at WWNO, we’ve witnessed many transformations since the summer of 2005: we’ve expanded our format, started a local news department, and even won some awards.

None of that would have been possible without the memorable efforts of WWNO’s staff who kept the radio station running after Hurricane Katrina and the floods that followed.

Former Governor Kathleen Blanco stood at the center of a political storm that swirled around the response to Hurricane Katrina. Like all of us who were here for the storm and its aftermath, her memories are filled with stories of fear and courage, heartbreak and healing. She shares the moment when Katrina transformed from pure tragedy to trust in the resilience of Louisiana's citizens.


This is the long story of a short street: Schnell Drive, two blocks of brick homes in Arabi, La., just east of New Orleans in St. Bernard Parish.

When we first visited in the fall of 2005, Donald and Colleen Bordelon were often the only two people on Schnell Drive. They had stayed in their home through the storm and the flood, and through the weeks after when the first floor was still filled with water.

MusicInsideOut.org

On Monday August 29, 2005 , Hurricane Katrina made landfall just east of New Orleans. Residents were thrilled to avoid the direct hit that many had predicted. Then the levees failed and the water came anyway. Lots of it. All told, 80 percent of the city was inundated and hundreds of thousands of people scrambled to higher ground.

Too many died. Most of the displaced made their way back to the city. Others never returned.

Food memories resonate from the post-Katrina experience in New Orleans. This offer of red beans and hospitality was displayed on a Mid-City home for months after the floods.
Ian McNulty

Sometimes a sound will bring it back, as random as loose siding beating against a wall, recalling a shredded city, or as overt as the diesel rumble of an army Humvee on city streets.

Even if you’re ready to close the door on Katrina and the levee failures, and plenty of us have, the persistence of sense memories may have other plans. It’s that vivid, involuntary recall of what we took in, and no matter where we managed to store it this stuff can come creeping back, even a decade later.

A decade after Hurricane Katrina — the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history — President Obama told a crowd in New Orleans that the storm was a "man-made" calamity that had as much to do with economic inequality and the failure of government as it did the forces of nature.

"What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens," the president said in a speech at a newly opened community center in the Lower Ninth Ward, a predominantly black neighborhood that was devastated by Katrina.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

St. Bernard Parish officials want to raise awareness of how the parish was affected by Hurricane Katrina ten years ago. The parish is holding its own Katrina 10 events this week, featuring art displays, public banners indicating the level of water the area took, parish first response offices, and visits to Army Corps of Engineers flood protection projects.

The images continue to haunt: storm surge from Hurricane Katrina pouring through gaps in failed flood walls, rapidly rising waters, desperate New Orleanians trapped on rooftops.

Terri Coleman, Gentilly resident and teacher at Dillard University
Rush Jagoe

You might have noticed a few cameras around town this week. Yes, the entire media world has descended on New Orleans.

 

But some reporters began digging around the city much earlier in the summer, in hopes of providing more in depth coverage. Anna Sale is the host of a year-old podcast from WNYC, the public radio station in New York City, called Death Sex & Money. Each episode focuses on one person, and gives them the chance to explore and dissect moments from their lives.

This week is filled with events marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Among them: a conference on the current state of Black New Orleans.

The three-day conference — hosted by the Urban League — kicked off with a town hall and panels focused on education.

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