recovery

How independent businesses kept New Orleans afloat

Aug 10, 2015
David Brancaccio and Katie Long

Panera and Starbucks are fine, but Laurel Street Bakery is something different. Hillary Guttman, the proprietor, recalls no chain coffee places opening near her in the weeks that followed the flood. First responders were a hungry market themselves.

It's blazingly hot outside and five summer fellows from the Tulane City Center are standing in a playground at a youth center in New Orleans. The architecture students diplomatically describe the playground's design as "unintentional": There's no grass, trees or even much shade, and it's surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. The students, both graduate and undergraduate, are there to make the playground a little nicer.

"Right now, it feels like a prison," says Maggie Hansen, the center's interim director.

Anniversaries call for exhibitions, and art museums across New Orleans felt compelled to remember Hurricane Katrina as the 10th anniversary of its landfall approaches. But the anniversary shows at some of the city's most high-profile museums seem surprisingly understated, at least to outsiders' eyes. In fact, they barely seem to be about Katrina at all.

In 2009, then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki declared that all homeless veterans would have housing by year's end. New Orleans has made huge strides towards ending veteran homelessness in the city. (This story first aired on August 4, 2015 on All Things Considered.)

In a lush green bayou a little southeast of New Orleans, John Lopez and Howard Callahan are cruising the waterways in an airboat under the hot Louisiana sun on a recent day.

It's an area known as Breton Basin, and Callahan is a local land manager who often helps researchers such as Lopez explore environmental changes in coastal wetlands. The pair head to a concrete and steel structure that separates the bayou from the nearby Mississippi River.

A small credit union brings Hope to New Orleans

Aug 5, 2015
Noel King and Caitlin Esch

Bill Bynum, the CEO of Hope Credit Union, has a couple of striking pictures hung on the walls of his Jackson, Mississippi, office.

Banking on a New Orleans recovery

Aug 4, 2015
Noel King and Caitlin Esch

Alden McDonald, the President and CEO of Liberty Bank, takes a pair of work boots from the trunk of his car and paces the perimeter of a branch that's under construction in New Orleans' Gentilly neighborhood. He lobs question after question at his contractors: what's the square footage on the restrooms? Where will the tellers sit? Is it possible to remove one wall and add some open space? McDonald is nothing if not persistent. It's a character trait that helped when Liberty faced its most trying time.

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast 10 years ago, the eye of the storm made landfall near a tiny speck of a town at the mouth of the Pearl River on the Louisiana border with Mississippi.

To say Katrina — one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in U.S. history — nearly wiped Pearlington, Miss., off the map isn't entirely true. The fact is, Pearlington was so small that it wasn't even on many maps.

Ten years ago this month Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and more than a thousand people died. A quarter of a million more fled their homes, which were damaged or destroyed in the devastating floods.

A lot has changed in the past decade, but the recovery has been uneven. White residents are doing better than they were before the storm hit, while African Americans are struggling to catch up from the storm's aftermath.

Elizabeth Mahoney, St. Bernard resident and peer counselor.
Brett Anderson

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the floods that followed is most visible in pictures of ruined houses and people’s destroyed possessions lying out on city streets. But there’s unseen damage that runs even deeper: the collective emotional trauma experienced by the thousands of people who lived through it.

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