In Katrina’s Aftermath, Psychologists Find Trauma As Well As Resilience

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10 years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is vibrant but wary.

David Herzenberg is back in the city he once called home – back to the place that is blighted and dysfunctional and infuriating yet at the same time magical and musical and wonderfully distinctive. Robert Traver watched homes explode in Iraq serving in the Army during Desert Storm, but nothing prepared him for the damage in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “I can’t get over the horror of that — flying for hours and seeing the damage.NEW ORLEANS – The vibrant sounds of brass bands and buskers echo through the streets of New Orleans ten years after the birthplace of jazz was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

It’s nothing that you ever forget,” the retired lieutenant colonel says. “I was in a barracks that was hit by a SCUD [missile], and in comparison that was nothing.” Katrina would prove the country’s costliest storm on record, killing at least 1,833 people, while wreaking more than $108 billion in damage. Obama’s first stop on his visit was to tour the Treme neighborhood, one of the oldest black neighborhoods in America and an area that experienced significant flooding during the 2005 storm. But while tourists may find themselves overwhelmed by choice, locals fear some of the Big Easy’s spirit of creativity and improvisation may have been lost to the floodwaters. “There had been a long line of older musicians passing a culture on to younger musicians,” guitarist Jonathan Frelich told AFP. “That got uprooted, and the way the city decided to invest in culture didn’t have much to do with the way that it had existed before.” Amid news images of thousands of the homeless, the sick and the dying trapped atop roofs, on highway overpasses, and in the Superdome and Morial Convention Center, it became a searing symbol of how government incompetence and callousness can transform a natural disaster into a colossal man-made calamity. Reflecting on the improved surroundings, Obama declared, ‘The fact that we can make this many strides 10 years after a terrible epic disaster, I think, is an indication of the kind of spirit we have in this city.’ After leaving the neighborhood, Obama delivered a speech at the newly opened $20.5 million Andrew P.

And after walking door to door in the historic Treme section of a city reborn from tragedy, he cautioned that “just because the housing is nice doesn’t mean our job is done.” In his remarks at the community center, Obama blended the same themes of resilience and renewal that he drew from encounters with the sturdy residents he met along Magic Street and at other locations. There remains work to be done: an analysis of nationwide flood risk was never funded, and the country has yet to develop an overarching strategy for preparing for and responding to disasters, which was recommended by the American Society of Civil Engineers after the storm.

Although precise numbers aren’t available, at least 986 Louisiana residents died from drowning, injuries, heart conditions and other causes, nearly half of them 75 or older. Americans watched shocked as stranded survivors waited day after day on rooftops for government help that was painfully slow to come, shattering confidence in their government. She pronounced herself a fan of the man, saying he’d handled “a rough road.” Chase — who’s known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” — said, “That’s all you have to do: handle what’s handed to you,” voicing what could be a credo for the city. More than 1 million people from the region were displaced – sometimes for weeks or months as they decided whether they could salvage their moldy, water-logged homes. The storm caused major damage to the Gulf Coast from Texas to central Florida while powering a storm surge that breached the system of levees that were built to protect New Orleans from flooding.

Next time, I guarantee it, people are not going to sit there and doubt the message.” In other regions, however, experts worry long years of calm have masked the dangers : earthquakes in Charleston, which sits atop a major fault-line, for example, or major flooding – exacerbated by climate change – in Baltimore, Boston, Norfolk, Sacramento and Tampa. “It’s an abstract debate: ‘Can Katrina happen here?’ Nobody’s going to believe it because it hasn’t happened in the last 50 years,” says Georgia Tech president Wayne Clough, who chaired a National Academy research committee on regional hurricane protection after Katrina. Video of residents seeking refuge on rooftops or inside the Superdome or the convention center dominated the news coverage as Katrina came to symbolize government failure at every level. Bush with more successful efforts to resurrect New Orleans: An allegory of what happens when government gets it wrong, and what happens when government gets it right. Not only New Orleans or New York City, but metropolises like San Francisco and Los Angeles have either recently faced or are regularly reminded of disaster.

Even though we still have a long way to go, even though we’re not completely where we want to be, even though not everybody has come back in every neighborhood, I think there’s good evidence that the city has really turned itself around. The president greeted residents among the new pastel paint and wood-shuttered windows in Treme, crediting partnerships between local, state and federal government for the resurrection of the historic neighborhood. “This is a community, obviously, that still has a lot of poverty… In the speech, Obama said that Katrina helped expose structural inequalities that long plagued New Orleans and left too many people, especially minorities, without good jobs, affordable health care or decent housing and too many kids growing up in the midst of violent crime and attending inefficient schools. Bobby Jindal, a Republican waging a long-shot bid for his party’s presidential nomination who told the president that the anniversary is a time to mourn the loss of loved ones, not to espouse ‘the divisive political agenda of liberal environmental activism.’ ‘Quite the opposite; it would distract from the losses we have suffered, diminish the restoration effort we have made and overshadow the miracle that has been the Louisiana comeback.’ That message “would resonate more with the city’s white residents than with its black residents,” said Michael Henderson, of Louisiana State University.

The area is filled with vacant lots where houses used to stand, so overgrown that local residents sometimes refer to it as the wilderness and worry about snakes hiding in the grass. They live in neighborhoods pockmarked with poverty and still-abandoned properties; they drive over cracked, warped and pothole-filled streets to get to their homes. “Initially, I didn’t think I was coming back,” Herzenberg said on a sweltering August day as he oversaw a small crew of workers on the corner of Alvar and North Derbigny streets. Harold Washington, 54, a military retiree studying at Tulane, said the city is “better than it was.” But he was sad that children are now bused all over town rather than attending neighborhood schools. If I could find 10 more houses in this area, I’d buy them in a heartbeat.” Drive around today and you’ll find those cracked streets and abandoned houses and vacant properties.

The Data Center, a research center that has exhaustively chronicled New Orleans’ rebirth, notes that the city’s poverty rate has risen to pre-Katrina levels “and is now a crushingly high 27 percent.” Violent crime rates are still roughly double national averages, despite a reduction from pre-Katrina levels. So our economy was weak compared to the nation pre-Katrina, and now it’s strong compared to the nation.” From his vantage point on the 34th floor of a downtown building, Michael Hecht leads the development group Greater New Orleans Inc. and is prepared with a list of economic accolades that show the city’s high rankings in start-ups per capita, education reform, favorable business climate and a host of other measures. Looking out his windows, he can literally see the growth – where crisp and brightly colored housing developments, medical centers and retail operations spring from what once was New Orleans’ decay. “Katrina turned everybody into an entrepreneur,” he said, adding: “There is something going on here with entrepreneurship.

They have since been fortified by $14.5 billion in federal and state money, and experts say the protection they provide is substantially stronger than it was. But the city needs to be vigilant about maintaining the system. 27% The New Orleans poverty rate, which is back near pre-Katrina levels and is substantially above the national rate of 15 percent, according to 2013 U.S. And he had a deep connection to his hometown; his mother was even director of the city’s sewerage and water board, which worked to drain the flood waters from New Orleans.

At least with hurricanes, you have a few days to leave.” Asked if he thought his fellow citizens actually would leave if and when the next big storm approaches, Landrieu, the mayor, said he feels good they would. Even so, he acknowledges the tight spot he’s in. “If you don’t sound an alarm, people say you didn’t warn them,” said Landrieu, who was lieutenant governor when Katrina hit and who comes from a prominent New Orleans political family (his father Moon was a former mayor and U.S.

Senate). “If you sound it too much, they say, ‘I won’t listen to you.’” “You cannot reconstruct a complete city that’s been destroyed in 10 years,” he said. “Even though, aspirationally, you would hope that you can do that, it just really, really, really takes a while to build a city that’s going to stand for the ages.”

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