The New Orleans Economy Ten Years After Katrina

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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. The slow response by the federal government in the aftermath left victims and many Americans alike to question whether race played a role in the delayed aid, as victims were disproportionately black. While nearly half of New Orleans inhabitants say the city has mostly recovered from the storm, there is a stark difference between white and black residents’ views.

Fulton Alt wondering what more she could do to help. “Within an hour of returning to the hotel room, something within me shifted and I knew I needed to do more,” she said. “I decided to photograph what I was seeing, with the hope of helping in a more concrete way by giving others visual access to my experience.” Those images would eventually be published in her photography book Look and Leave: Photographs and Stories of New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward. 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. African-American residents have seen greater progress than white residents, however, in available public transportation and improved medical facilities, and both groups were about even in their perception of progress on crime and safety.

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. And while both black and white residents see the least progress on controlling crime and public safety, African Americans are more likely to say their neighborhood doesn’t have enough police, that they worry about being a victim to a violent crime, and that they don’t feel a sense of safety from crime in their neighborhood. All residents do agree, however, that minorities and poorer people were less supported by the recovery efforts than the wealthy, middle-class and white segments of the population.

Nearly 4 in 5 respondents say white people received at least some help; slightly less — 3 in 5 respondents — say that African Americans received at least some help. Whites were twice as likely as African Americans to say that their overall quality of life is better than it was 10 years ago before Hurricane Katrina. Comparatively, only 17 percent of blacks say conditions are better in their community now than they were pre-Katrina, and 50 percent say they’re worse.

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