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.

This week on the Reading Life:  Katherine E. Browne, author of Standing in the Need: Culture, Comfort and Coming Home After Katrina, and bestselling author Libba Bray, whose new book in The Diviners series for young adults is Lair of Dreams. And Susan has a few thoughts about summer reading.

New books about Katrina in 2015:

We’re Still Here, Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City, by Roberta Brandes Gratz

Katrina: After the Flood, by Gary Rivlin            

Residents of the Lower 9th Ward attend an unveiling a plaque marking the location of the levee break.
Jesse Hardman

  

The catastrophic flooding of the Lower 9th Ward now has a commemorative marker.

A plaque was erected last night by Levees.org. 

It’s at the site where a floodwall protecting the neighborhood collapsed, unleashing a wall of water 10 years ago during Hurricane Katrina.

StoryCorps

In the immediate days after Hurricane Katrina, Ben Rongey’s father gave him a special pass which gave him full access to Jefferson Parish. At the time he was a high school senior and acted accordingly: he called his friend Wyatt Higgins so they could explore the city together.

They smooth-talked a National Guardsman, crossed into Orleans Parish, and headed for Wyatt’s house. Flood waters prevented them from driving into the Gentilly neighborhood, so they parked the car and walked the final trek.

In the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, law enforcement in New Orleans erroneously told evacuees to gather at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to await rescue.

2005 Hurricane Season Still Most Active on Record

Aug 24, 2015

Ten years later, the 2005 hurricane season remains the most active on record.

Barry Keim, Louisiana’s state climatologist, says that in 2005, “The sea surface temperatures were off the charts.” Keim explains that hurricanes need warm water to develop. The warmer the water, the stronger hurricanes can potentially become.

There were 28 named storms in 2005. “It was a crazy year,” Keim says. The last storm of the season, Tropical Storm Zeta, formed on December 30th—a full month after what should have been the end of hurricane season.

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, much of the physical damage the storm caused in the city of New Orleans has been repaired. Neighborhoods and communities have been rebuilt. Schools, hospitals, businesses, and restaurants have re-opened.

But as Laine Kaplan-Levenson of WWNO in New Orleans reports, a deeper, invisible wound brought by the storm remains. Thousands of residents, and especially children, were traumatized by the storm and the displacement and struggle that followed.

It was known as the "Swankiest Night Spot in the South" and considered one of the most famous clubs in the network of black cabarets known as the "Chitlin' Circuit." During the era of segregation, it was the cultural mecca of black New Orleans — what the Savoy Ballroom was to Harlem. Little Richard, a frequent performer there, even composed a song about the place.

Undeterred by the devastation, second line clubs returned to New Orleans a few months after the flood, determined to uphold the city's cultural traditions. This photo is of the 2009 Prince of Wales second line parade.
Jason Saul

Well, we’ve made it. Almost. It’s been a long, hot summer and this is our last episode as we come up on the tenth anniversary of Katrina.

The city is abuzz with journalists and experts and NGOs and politicians. We thought we’d use this last bit of The Debris to explore a word they’re all using to talk about New Orleans: resilience.

Angela Chalk lives right in the middle of New Orleans, in the 7th Ward. Her house withstood Hurricane Katrina's pounding winds, but not the flood that followed when the federal levee system failed.

"I had 6 feet of water," she says, pointing to a watermark on her wall.

And she wasn't alone. About 80 percent of the city's homes were inundated with floodwater. It was weeks before the water receded and Chalk was able to return home.

When she did, what she found was a crusty brown mess.

After the levees broke 10 years ago in New Orleans, tens of thousands of residents fled the city and never returned. They resettled in 32 states around the nation, many of them landing in Houston.

New Home Family Worship Center also relocated to that city and became the spiritual family for a dislocated and homesick congregation. Most of the people who came to a special worship service Thursday night were born in New Orleans. With "Katrina 10" projected on the screen behind the altar, Pastor Robert C. Blakes introduced his special guest.

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