Second Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

August 30, 2007 | By Mario Tama | News

I spent the past two weeks in New Orleans working on stories leading up to the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29. Coming down here always brings back memories of those dreadful days and every time I pass over the bridge leading into the Lower Ninth Ward I can’t help but think of the first time I crossed and gazed down at the colossal deluge.

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I returned to the projects a number of times and was pleased to see that more units have been re-opened, allowing some of the city’s poor to return home to affordable housing. I was joined by our new multimedia staff photographer Rick Gershon and we teamed up on pieces on a church functioning out of a tent in Mississippi, a couple still living without electricity or gas in the Lower Ninth and a short piece on the projects.

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I visited an elementary school in the Lower Ninth which finally re-opened and made a number of trips to the levees to document the slow rebuilding process.

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The Big Easy is back to about 65 percent of its pre-Katrina population. Tens of thousands are still living in trailers and the levees are not up to the point where they could protect against another Katrina-sized storm. Crime is a huge problem and the city is set to have one of the highest murder rates in the country again this year. To someone visiting for the first time, it remains a deeply shocking experience to pass through the still-devastated areas of the city.

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However, New Orleans is slowly but surely pulling itself up by its bootstraps, as many people have come to the conclusion that the government will never be coming to the rescue.

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Tonight I participated in the group slideshow “Eyes on Katrina” by SeenUnseen which was projected onto the levee wall in the Lower Ninth Ward. The show was curated by Jake Price and Jamie Wellford and featured work by a number of photographers including Stanley Greene, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Alan Chin, Yunghi Kim, Andy Levin and Anthony Suau, just to name a few. The turnout was low due to rain, but we were happy to be able to pull it off. The photo on the levee wall was taken by Kadir van Lohuizen.

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