Since Katrina, Biloxi’s Rebound Has Been Slow

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

17 Of The Best Things Ever Written About Hurricane Katrina.

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The latest on former President George W. Bush has arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi, where hundreds of people gathered in a beachside park to salute emergency responders who worked during and after Hurricane Katrina. Fink won a Pulitzer Prize for this investigation into why doctors and nurses at Memorial hospital in New Orleans decided to euthanize more than a dozen patients during the chaotic days after Katrina hit. Bush says that during Katrina and its aftermath, there was “an impressive display of leadership down here on the Gulf Coast.” He called off the names of those were then the mayors of Mississippi Coast cities and the supervisors of its counties.

— Nick Baumann This piece doesn’t directly pertain to Katrina, but to the vast challenges facing coastal Louisiana that were both revealed and exacerbated by the storm. The state is losing a football field of land every 48 minutes, land that could protect citizens from the next big storm, and this ProPublica interactive highlights just how dire the situation is for wetlands in the region. McMurray, who was stationed in Gulfport during the storm, said on Friday that the first few days of recovery were “organized chaos.” Republican Haley Barbour, Mississippi’s governor during Katrina, thanked hundreds of thousands of volunteers who helped people in the state rebuild.

— Kate Sheppard Thompson’s reporting — conducted over 18 months — established as history what had once been considered rumor: that after Katrina, white New Orleanians took the law into their own hands, killing black neighbors they suspected of looting. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the state took over almost all the city’s schools, which had been widely criticized before Katrina for failing to provide a good quality education. The black population has dropped from nearly 67 percent in 2000 to 59 percent today; whites, once about one-quarter of residents, now account for nearly a third. “The people who have not returned have been disproportionately African-American, renters, low-income, single mothers and persons with disabilities,” says Lori Peek, an associate professor of sociology at Colorado State University and co-editor, with University of South Carolina psychologist Lynn Weber, of the book, “Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora.” Following Katrina, officials demolished four of the city’s notorious projects, vowing to replace them with modern, mixed-income developments. A refrigerator and her grandson’s basinet swirled up toward her, “like trying to see who was going to get up the stairs first.” The Washingtons managed to find space in the hometown Saints’ end zone. It’s a heartwrenching account of New Orleans residents being forced to leave their furry family members behind to escape the storm, and how that horror led to legislation requiring pets be included in disaster and evacuation planning, so others won’t have to make that same terrible sacrifice.

Chevelle talked of a friend who moved her family back — only to have three of her boys killed in a drive-by shooting, victims of apparent mistaken identity. It does so through the eyes of people who lived through New Orleans’ destruction and rebirth in different ways: writers who chronicled it at the time; Mayor Mitch Landrieu; the Saints’ owner, coach and former players; and longtime residents trying to rebuild. But off the field, it seemed he was forever trying to dodge tensions — like the taunt “N-O!” that the Houston kids would shout whenever New Orleans refugees passed in the hallways. Although he says he has no regrets about coming back to New Orleans, his advice to other young people is: Unless you’re returning for a good job or to study, stay where you are.

It’s from the perspective of a young girl who discusses the storm as a sort of supernatural force that impacted her relationship with her family members forever. Her voice is beautiful, powerful, and solemn — she gives equal weight to the events every kid goes through growing up as she does to the tragic hurricane that forever changed her life. And while plenty of national correspondents made important contributions, the best work came from the writers who knew the city and its dysfunctions best: the staff of the Times-Picayune. For the big-picture overview of what went wrong — particularly the tragic planning failures by local, state and federal officials — there’s Breach of Faith by Jed Horne and Path of Destruction by John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein.

In 2002, they wrote a five-part newspaper series called “Washing Away” that foretold it all, from the breaching of levees to the stranding of low-income residents with no viable transportation out of town. After the storm, Rose, a news reporter who had migrated over to the newspaper’s entertainment staff, began producing a real-time chronicle of Katrina’s psychological impact — on the community as a whole, on his neighbors and eventually on himself.

One Dead in the Attic is a compilation of those columns, full of lows (including his own battle with depression) but also a few highs (like the return of lines outside one of the city’s most famous po’ boy restaurants).

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