Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hope, reality collide in post-Katrina New Orleans

By one estimate, 36 percent of New Orleans' housing is empty, and like the lot next to the Miesters, there is no clear indication when or whether it will be rebuilt. While grace periods to many mortgage holders after the storm helped New Orleans avoid the high foreclosure rates other cities have seen, many homeowners haven't yet decided whether to rebuild or, in some cases, don't have the money to finish the work.

Many home construction workers had more work than they could handle in the first two to three years of the recovery. Now, small groups can be found gathered outside building superstores and at busy intersections well into the afternoon, still looking for work.

SHOOT: There is another issue to consider, and that is, should a city as vulnerable as this one be rebuild, if it is increasingly likely to be hit by more and more ferocious storms?
clipped from
The fronts steps is all that remains of a home that was destroyed by Hurricane

NEW ORLEANS – Shelia Phillips doesn't see the New Orleans that Mayor Ray Nagin talks about, the one on its way to having just as many people and a more diverse economy than it did before Hurricane Katrina. How could she?

From the front porch of her house in the devastated Lower 9th Ward, it's hard to see past the vegetation slowly swallowing the property across the way. Nearby homes are boarded up or still bear the fading tattoos left by search and rescue teams nearly four years ago. The fence around a playground a few blocks down is padlocked.

"I just want to see people again," she said recently, swatting bugs in the muggy heat.

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