10 Years After Katrina, Black Residents See Less Recovery Progress Than Whites

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

On Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, what was lost and gained from Katrina’s fury.

Ten years ago, Jane Fulton Alt followed the coverage from Chicago as Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and said she was struck with a “profound sense of helplessness.” Six weeks later, the photographer and clinical social worker left for New Orleans to volunteer her skills on a team of mental-health professionals. She was assigned to a program created to serve people from the city’s poverty-stricken Lower Ninth Ward in which mental-health professionals accompanied evacuated residents on their first, and sometimes last, visits to their homes in the aftermath of the storm. — The car creeps along mile after mile of nothingness along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, passing empty parking lots and rows of vacant yards overlooking sugar-white man-made beaches and a calm sea. Though over seven seasons he would become the New Orleans Saints’ second all-time leading receiver, Horn understands the struggle and is also as charismatic as he is down to earth—especially in the presence of those needing a boost.

Where once sat antebellum mansions now sit clipped green lawns with magnolia trees and moss-draped live oaks, concrete slab foundations and grand brick steps leading nowhere. “This is the boulevard of broken dreams,” said Rebecca Kremer Kajdan, 54, who was born and raised in Gulfport and has worked for five mayors. So when she drives to work at the newly built city hall here, she plays a memory game. “I look at every lot and tell myself what used to be there,” Kajdan said, pointing out lost landmarks. “Ruby Tuesday was on this corner. In fact, if it weren’t for his relentless will to keep the team in New Orleans after all of the destruction, there’s a big chance Drew Brees would be chuckin’ the rock for the Saints in San Antonio.

Ten years after the hurricane, the following are Joe Horn’s words, speaking of a time when so many lost their lives, both literally and figuratively. She said she felt that the city “summoned” her, that she was “called back by lingering ghosts of that devastation to mark the Lower Ninth’s slow and heroic transfiguration.” In many images, homes are still and quiet, overgrown with vegetation and in disrepair. But in another, a porch light illuminates a group of people enjoying an evening on the front porch. “Where house after house once bumped shoulders in raucous juke-joint jamborees, many now stand solitary, as if wallflowered,” she said. “But the fabric of community that remains, after being darned and patched, speaks to the enduring mystery and tenacity of a singular place and people.” The project is a personal endeavor, shot at night to capture the photographer’s own sentiment about the neighborhood. The barge was tied to the shore with wire hurricane cables as thick as a fist, and parts of the boat were powered down to eliminate the normal ding-ding-ding-dings of the slot machines, leaving a strange silence. Naquin says he doesn’t know the amount they unloaded off the boat and drove out of frantic New Orleans that day, but judging by Louisiana Gaming Control requirements, it was likely millions. “Let’s just say, we got it all off, and it was all safe and sound,” Naquin said in a recent interview, nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina. “I’m sure the director of finance knew down to the penny what we had, but it was just paper to us.” Normally a four-hour trip, it took Naquin’s caravan 12 hours to get to the Treasure Chest’s Boyd Gaming sister property: Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana.

When those four levees were breached, people were like “Whoa, we’re stuck here now!” It was crazy being in California, seeing that s–t and feeling helpless. The storm hit the mouth of the Pearl River, bringing with it winds of more than 150 mph, great walls of waves and 28-foot storm surges, hurling its warm breath counterclockwise. The tasty Cajun cuisine and brass music that pops up on the corners play bigger roles in the city, but peel back the curtain a little, and you’ll see there’s plenty of gambling going on in the Big Easy.

It lifted hastily abandoned ship-cargo trailers off piers and slung them into towns, where they split open, filling the streets with the stench of rotting pork bellies and boxed chicken. Harrah’s, located just outside of the French Quarter on Poydras Street, and two riverboats in the suburbs — Boomtown and Treasure Chest — are the primary New Orleans casinos. The wind and water may be gone, but Katrina’s reach remains. “We caught the bad side of the storm,” said Billy Hewes, Gulfport’s mayor. “Our coast lost its physical history. The storm reduced it to kindling wood.” Although much of the nation focused on the damage to New Orleans caused by levee failures, the immense destruction to Mississippi was caused by a direct hit from nature. I was thinking of a way I could stay in Houston for an extended period and help the people get what they needed, like water, tissues, toothpaste and feminine products.

When fans approached me saying, “We gotta beat Carolina’s ass,” I was like “What?” These people have been reduced to nothing, yet they’re talking about football? Downtowns have been transformed into what the state’s recovery commission calls a “Mississippi Renaissance.” Harbors have been rebuilt to better withstand future storms. Phil Bryant (R) said. “Homes and public structures are rebuilt to more disaster-resistant standards, and businesses are open and thriving.” “Not bad,” allowed Pass Christian Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott during a ride down the city’s Scene Drive, where empty lots now feature historic markers instead of historic mansions. “There was one point we got down to 900 people.” In Gulfport, a city of 73,000 in 2005, 9,571 houses were damaged or destroyed, said city administrator John R. One year before the storm, in October 2004, video poker generated $47.58 million in revenue; in October 2005, the earliest the bulk of storm evacuees began returning, video poker revenue was $59.07 million. A 2014 study by Oxford Economics found that the gaming industry contributes more than $4 billion to Mississippi’s economy, supports approximately 37,000 jobs and nearly $1.5 billion in income.

It laid miles of new water and sewer lines, built a $21 million police headquarters, upgraded 11 fire stations, replaced its harbor, restored 70 historic buildings. When you’re from the gutter eating welfare cheese for meals, constipated for two weeks and throwing up with rats and roaches crawling under your head every night, doing drills is nothing. They feel terrible, and they want to feel better,” said Deborah Smith, a nationally certified gambling addiction specialist at Sunspire Health Recovery Road. “Gambling actually helps them feel better for the moment. There is a lot of connection with PTSD and problem gamblers.” The calls to the gambling helpline eventually leveled off around four years after Katrina, as life slowly drifted toward a new normalcy in the impacted areas.

Louis: the mother of one of Murphy’s friends. “It feels like it was yesterday and a lifetime ago,” said Murphy 61, an acclaimed photographer who had published a book, “My South Coast Home,” documenting the Gulf Coast and its mansions before they were torn to splinters. “I haven’t gotten my head around it because we haven’t come back like we should.” Murphy, who wears his curly, salt-and-pepper hair combed back, is less bitter about Katrina than he is about what government officials did after the storm. He contends that state officials stole a chunk of the land where his family’s restaurant was located so the city could build a seawall for its new harbor — an allegation the state denies. The restaurant, Dan B’s, was a beachfront place that had been owned by the Murphys since 1981 and was known for its roast beef, shrimp poboys and sauteed crab claws. Ken Murphy and his brothers, Ray Murphy, 60, and Audie “Rock” Murphy, 59, had renovated the restaurant in June 2005, renaming it Daniel’s Southbeach. “Exactly 90 days later,” Ken Murphy said, “Katrina struck,” flattening it.

Murphy’s family argued in court that they had a deed proving that their land extended to the water’s edge, and the state had claimed their property without due process. Because of the time and cost consumed by the lawsuit and the seawall the city built, Murphy said he has been unable to rebuild the restaurant on its original plot. In Biloxi, cars on Highway 90 whiz past the gleaming white Yacht Club, which overlooks a white beach with imported palm trees, past the hot-pink Sharkheads Biloxi Beach premier gift shop with a giant shark-tooth entrance, and past Beauvoir, the antebellum seaside home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, now restored to its original grandeur.

What does Tuesday’s ruling on New Jersey’s attempt to legalize sports betting mean for international sports betting, the fight for legalization, and Nevada? I know Tom Benson brought the team back, but on a political level, my goal was to make sure I said whatever I needed to say to NFLPA head Gene Upshaw on that visit. Ryan Rodenberg explains why real-time fantasy games are the future of fantasy sports, and why American sports leagues — and the betting population as a whole — will likely embrace them.

David Purdum details the rise of Dial Sports, a phone service created by Mickey Charles in his Pennsylvania garage, which helped grow pre-Internet sports betting in the United States. James Crowell, president of the local NAACP chapter, says many of the predominantly black and Vietnamese people who lived in East Biloxi left and did not come back. I said, “I’m telling you right now that we should go back and help rebuild New Orleans.” That rebuilding would be the ultimate glorification for the NFL. Harrah’s Grand Casino riverboat separated from its moorings and ended up across the street, a block away from its normal home. (Casino riverboats, loaded down with slot machines, fuel and other equipment, can weigh more than 2,500 long tons, or 5.5 million pounds.) Eric Newton, director of security for Beau Rivage, evacuated in advance and returned the day after Katrina hit. They found refuge in a tree, then on a floating house roof and, finally, on a pile of debris. “We were in the Gulf of Mexico,” he marveled. “Houses were falling apart.

Some were hungry; others were just looking for anything to get their minds off of their post-storm reality. “It was such a bad time,” said Charlie Thomas, a loyal Boomtown customer of 20-plus-years who was among the droves of people that came to the reopening. “It was sort of nice when it re-opened. He swears he didn’t let a smile slip out from under his bushy, gray mustache that day, even though he’d been working day and night for a month in preparation for that exact moment.

I just decided to take control of my life.” Burkart, who plays the Hammond B3 organ, started his own band, Mikey B3, which he describes as an organ-based trio that plays “Gulf Coast rock ’n’ soul.” His musical career is thriving. Nothing compared to the food, though. “Boy, the food … that was the worst part,” Frederick said adamantly. “Put it this way, it made a rotten egg smell like a rose.

The track runs Thanksgiving to late March, so thankfully, with Katrina’s arrival in August, no horses were on the premises. (In 2008, the track began hosting quarter horse racing in August and September.) The water made it onto the apron and the infield, soaking it with damaging salt water, but did not reach the grandstand or clubhouse facility. Months later, the funky money was brought back to the racetrack, where McCloskey and others literally laundered it in the washing machines normally used by the jockeys to wash their silks. “When we dried it, we put it in one of those little bags that women put their delicates in,” McCloskey said. “Well, the dryer disintegrated it, like confetti. We only did that once.” The 2005-06 meet was moved to Louisiana Downs in Shreveport, along with outside employees, while the track was repaired (inside executives were moved to Churchill Downs, which bought the Fair Grounds in 2004, the year before Katrina). Riding through the maze of green barns and stables on a golf cart this August, Torres points to all the improvements that have been made to the bustling backside of the track.

They built up a camaraderie between trainer and handicapper. “The year of Katrina, when we had to race at Louisiana Downs, I thought about those guys a lot,” Amoss recalled earlier this month. “I wondered if they made it OK.

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