By Ashley Thompson, Clarkston Managing Editor
On Sunday, August 29th, the people of New Orleans remembered the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina for its fifth anniversary. It was a natural disaster to never be forgotten, and while many attempts are being made to rebuild what the city once was, natives are saying it will never be the same.
Katrina left almost 2,000 people dead and drove 300,000 residents to relocate after the levees broke and caused over three -fourths of the city to be flooded. Fast forward to present day, and there are still entire neighborhoods that have not been renovated.
According to former mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, the city has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and about 80 percent of the people who were displaced have returned to their home base. Many have found new lives elsewhere, and have no plans to return, but for most the rebuilding of New Orleans has also come with gentrification, leaving those who could barely afford to make ends meet pre-Katrina completely out of the picture.
New Orleans, before and after the hurricane, is one of the most poverty stricken countries in the nation. USpoverty.com says that 60 percent of New Orleans residents have to choose between paying their bills on time and buying groceries, and many of the families that were left homeless are still receiving government assistance to pay for housing and other basic needs.
Whatever the politics maybe, it is safe to say that New Orleans and its people have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. No matter who gets blamed for the misfortune of an entire city, there is nothing left to do but move forward.
President Obama said in a speech this weekend, “…Together we are helping to make New Orleans a place that stands for what we can do in America — not just for what we can’t do. And ultimately, that must be the legacy of Katrina: not one of neglect, but of action; not one of indifference, but of empathy; not of abandonment, but of a community working together to meet shared challenges.” One can only hope.