Scott: Eight years ago, one of the deadliest hurricanes hit the city of New Orleans. And now, as we happen to close in on the middle of the current hurricane season, what steps are being taken to avoid such devastating results from future storms? Maggie Rulli has the story.
Audrey Celius: Sweat, tears, disgust, aggravation and, at times, sheer jubilation.
Maggie: Audrey Celius lives in the Lower Ninth Ward, an area of New Orleans hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. It has been nearly eight years, but the population in this community is only a third of what it was before the storm. And those who did return home were often met with poisonous conditions.
Laura Paul: Toxic mold, toxic FEMA trailers, toxic Chinese sheetrock. None of these things did anybody here any favors. Contractor fraud, discriminatory federal recovery programs. Conservative estimates have the recovery of this community taking another decade.
Maggie: It is a long recovery back from this, August 2005. Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was one of the deadliest hurricanes on record. Katrina tore through southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama.
In the city of New Orleans, raging wind and rain broke through levees, the protective walls built to keep water back, flooding the city. And by August 31st, almost 80% of the city was underwater. The nation watched in horror as the disaster unfolded on television. Nearly 2,000 people died and 15 million people were left homeless. The storm cost the city almost $150 billion.
Eight years later, community leaders are focusing on the future by addressing the impact of climate change on their community now.
Telley Madina: Moving forward, if we’re going to have action, our action has to be on the change in the climate, rising sea level and what we’re going to do to strengthen our coast.
Maggie: Coastal wetlands are Louisiana’s natural protective barrier against hurricanes. According to NOAA, the federal agency that focuses on ocean conditions, rising sea levels and warmer oceans could make hurricanes bigger and more intense, meaning Louisiana’s disappearing coastline might make the state more vulnerable to future storms.
To protect the coast, the government has already spent $15 billion in building and strengthening the levees, floodwalls, pump stations and surge barriers.
Mark Romig: New Orleans tourism depends on visitation coming in from people to enjoy the many assets that Louisiana has. And when we’re losing a football field every so many minutes, it becomes a very ridiculous equation not to do anything about.
Maggie: Community leaders say that to protect the city from another disaster like Katrina, everyone must do their part to make a difference.
Gregory Aymond: It starts in our homes, but it cannot end there. It must go to the rest of the community, to the rest of our city. It cannot end there. We must, and we must work with our political leaders as they have a voice and a power to help us towards change.
Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Scott: Thanks, Maggie. And for a timeline of the events before and after the storm, head to Channelone.com.