10 Essential Stories About Hurricane Katrina

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Katrina Q&A: New Orleans before and after the historic storm.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is marking 10 years since Hurricane Katrina by celebrating the revival of New Orleans, which suffered the worst of the ferocious storm’s devastation, while again warning all levels of government to start helping communities prepare for the stronger hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires that climate change will bring. When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast 10 years ago, she inflicted major pain on the touring industry in that region, but a decade later live music in the region is thriving.

But it has also been historically wrought with challenges: Public schools were some of the worst in the country; the murder rate was among the highest in the USA; there was deep-seated economic disparity between races; and the city’s population had been on a steep decline for nearly a half-century. The market is on solid footing these days and has, “bounced back very strongly,” says veteran promoter Don Fox, founder of New Orleans-based Beaver Productions, whose offices on West Harrison St. in New Orleans were flooded during Katrina. “Now, everybody that is on tour is playing New Orleans. He was delivering remarks at a newly opened community center in a largely African-American neighborhood, the Lower 9th Ward, that was among those hardest hit by the storm. The loss of neighborhood clubs and an increased emphasis on tourism has shaped the opportunities for musicians and the types of music they play, he said. All of the major theaters have reopened and are doing great business.” Several venues were flooded or nearly destroyed by Katrina, but none are more symbolic of both the misery Katrina brought, nor the resiliency of those left in its wake, than the Mercedes Benz (commonly known as Louisiana) Superdome.

Most of the deaths came in low-lying areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward, where the collapse of the federal levees led to floods that overwhelmed homes. The Superdome was only meant to play a small role in the Katrina saga by hosting 850 special needs hospital patients, but was designated a “refuge of last resort” by public officials the day before Katrina hit. Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of the devastating storm that ravaged New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in more than 1,200 deaths. For a handful of athletes that Yahoo Sports spoke to about the tragic events, much of their Katrina stories revolve around the immediate and/or lasting impact the hurricane had on their families, particularly their parents.

Here’s a brief collection of tales of the hardship and triumph experienced by an NBA rookie, NFL rookie, two NFL veterans and a retired NBA player with ties to New Orleans: “I never really talk about it. Stranded citizens were brought in by helicopters, boats, and high-water vehicles from rooftops or wherever they were stranded, and the Superdome became the focal point of Katrina.

Eighteen “essential” SMG employees, backed up by total of 225 staffers (and their families) from SMG and concessionaire Centerplate, also sought refuge at the Superdome and were pressed into service, along with about 375 National Guardsmen. Video of residents seeking refuge on rooftops or inside the Superdome or the convention center dominated news coverage in the aftermath as Katrina came to symbolize government failure at every level. Lacy, 25, has done his best to tuck away his teenage memories about that Sunday night in 2005 when wind, rain, terror and fear ripped through the family’s Gretna, La., house and left it for naught.

As power went out, 70 percent of the Superdome roof was lost, and water poured into “every nook and cranny of the building,” evacuees were faced with no functioning toilets, no HVAC, massive mold growth, no trash removal, and rapidly deteriorating conditions. The storm went down in history as the costliest natural disaster, and one of the deadliest, to strike the U.S., with $150 billion in damages to homes and other property.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama, in addition to celebrating a resurgent New Orleans, will also stress the need for the federal government and communities nationwide to start investing in “resilience” so that they are ready for the more intense storms and wildfires a warming planet will bring. “There’s no denying what scientists tell us, which is that there’s reason to be concerned about these storms getting worse and more violent,” Earnest said. The economy is booming, a whopping nine million tourists visited last year, and there are scores of new festivals and venues offering work to local musicians. People were breaking into and occupying the suites, drinking the liquor, and having their way, there was no way to police all of that entirely,” Thornton recalls. “Most of these folks were just plain, hard-working citizens with their families. The rescue effort included local fire and rescue squads, boat teams from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Coast Guard and Navy helicopters and thousands of National Guardsmen, as well as neighbors in smaller boats.

The city has recovered much of its pre-storm population, new businesses are opening faster than the national average and better flood protection plans are in place. You had gang members, you had homeless people on the street, you had a cross-section of people thrust into a situation where they were trying to survive. Lacy’s family did what it could to survive, and though the family moved dozens of times to wherever it could safely stay for a while – going as far as Texas to have a temporary roof over its heads – it never permanently left the area.

I would say we did the best that we could under the circumstances, and we may never know all the things that happened.” Six people died in the Superdome in the wake of Katrina, four of natural causes, one from an overdose, and one an apparent suicide. In recent years, Frenchmen Street has transformed from the hipper alternative to Bourbon Street into a more tourist-friendly destination, where a well-lit outdoor market and a giant gourmet hot dog stand welcome visitors. The family was not going to let a storm push it away from the place it knew was home. “I don’t know exactly what made them to decide to stay [near Gretna], but it was pretty much our only option because we didn’t have money to just go where they wanted,” Lacy said. “They had to bounce around in the area for a long time, live with people they knew. Bush was also criticized for surveying the city’s destruction from aboard Air Force One two days after the storm but waiting another week before visiting the devastated city.

Just people looking out for one another.” When Lacy signed his $3.39 million rookie deal with the Packers, he knew what one of his first big purchases would be: a new home for his parents. Bush later teamed up with former president Bill Clinton to create the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, which has raised more than $130 million to support relief and long-term recovery efforts. A: FEMA issued thousands of temporary trailers to Katrina victims who remained in the city and didn’t have a home, but many of those trailers were later found to have high levels of formaldehyde and other toxins. Musicians said that while tourism had a homogenizing effect on the music, the city’s changing demographics pose another threat to its penchant for improvisation. The black population has fallen by about 115,000 people, dropping from 68 percent of residents in 2000 to 60 percent in 2013, the latest census figures show. “We understand our position as musicians and culture bearers is to educate the younger ones so they can grab the torch,” he said. “Right now, we still have a lot more walking and torch carrying to do.”

One that other people could come and stay whenever they needed shelter from any kind of storm, meteorological or metaphysical, that might be blowing through. This was chance to make the Superdome a better place but also a chance to reset the dial for New Orleans, repair our school system, our hotels, our hospitals. Ada Livingston eventually departed New Orleans on a bus with other evacuees that took her to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio with a 2 a.m. arrival. The city had to die to be reborn.” The road to recovery was a long one for the historic Saenger Theatre, a 2,800-capacity show palace on the Big Easy’s Canal Street.

The Saenger, which opened in 1927, suffered four feet of water on its orchestra level and a completely flooded basement housing all mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems. Presti quickly agreed to aid the Livingstons, but there was a challenge in finding a woman he never met amongst hundreds of evacuees. “I recall driving up to the base and seeing what looked like hundreds of yellow school buses,” Presti told Yahoo Sports. “I thought to myself, ‘How am I going to find this woman?’ It didn’t dawn on me the amount of people that would probably get evacuated to the same spot. That included the daunting two-year task of recreating the venue’s intricate painting scheme that created biggest challenge, a project that took itself took two years.

Presti kept in touch with her before she departed. “It’s one of those things that is way out of the scope of basketball,” Presti said about aiding the Livingstons. “It’s kind of makes you realize it’s a small community of people who are involved in it.” There were no NFL plans back then, not even college plans. The Saenger is tops in the nation in subscriptions for the Broadway Across America series, is so strong it’s No. 1 market for Broadway Across America, never the case before Katrina.

The Saenger now hosts 40-50 concerts annually, and the Jackson, home of the New Orleans Opera and Ballet associations, another 10-15 concerts. “Both venues have recovered nicely and are busier than they’ve ever been. Biloxi is home to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center, which sits just across the Highway 90 from the Gulf, not an enviable position in hurricane season. And, beyond the challenges of being a small market venue, the Coliseum is hanging strong. “It took awhile to get people convinced market would sustain, but last year was the best year we’ve had in the arena and convention center since the storm,” says McDonnell. “We could always use more, but we continue to do well with the shows we are getting.” While “Katrina was really hard on that coast,” Arnold says, “those are the only people I can think of that could handle something like that, and they did. Those are incredibly resilient people down there, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.” Waveland specifically was hammered by Katrina, and 3DD’s Better Life Foundation helped by purchasing three police cars and a fire truck to help with rescue efforts and supported rebuilding efforts for the area.

With Wal-Mart, the BLF shipped down three semi-trucks full of supplies. “There was so much to be done there, I don’t know if we even put a dent in it,” Arnold says. “It was the least we could do.” The next day my dad turned on the news and we saw tragedy, people dying and people losing their houses, people losing their families through evacuation.

Most of his belongings, including high school and college football jerseys and helmets, simply washed away in the storm. “You look back like, man, that’s crazy. Because I know the change, from living there,” said Clark, who started at left tackle for the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII two seasons ago. “Other people, like tourists, don’t understand it.

Clark heard the horror stories from them, of crimes being committed at the stadium and the people being packed in with what they felt like was little help from the city.

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