|It's been ten years since the catastrophic failure of a poorly designed levee system
devastated 80% of Orleans Parish and all of St. Bernard Parish.
I don't care how many pictures or news clips or documentaries you saw of New Orleans during
and after the flood, unless you saw it firsthand, you don't understand. It was the enormity of it
that couldn't be captured. Pictures were inadequate.
But, incredibly, despite the scale of the destruction (and despite the many predictions of
naysayers who insisted the city couldn't be saved), New Orleans survives and even prospers.
Someone once asked a woman who spent four years doing the repair work herself on her
flooded home how she'd kept going. She said, "I just kept hope in my heart."
Hope is essential to life. Hope for a better hour, a better day, a better year, a better future.
Without hope, the people who endured the effects of the levee failures would not have been
able to carry on with their lives after August, 2005.
A few months after the floods, when I visited Lakeview, where I'd once lived, all I saw was
wrenching devastation. Everything destroyed. Nothing lived or moved, no people, no
animals, no birds, no flowers, no grass, no color. Everything was brown or grey. Then, finally,
I spied a tiny patch of green grass at the park where my son had played as a child. I cried with
relief. It was like a miracle. I said to myself, the grass is coming back - there is hope.
And there was.
A July, 2015 study shows that New Orleans' population is very near pre-Katrina numbers and
still growing. More than half of the city's 72 neighborhoods have recovered over 90 percent
of the population they had before the levees failed. There are 16 neighborhoods that now
have more residents than they did prior to the levee breaches.
This year, Travel & Leisure magazine ranked New Orleans second on a list of the ten "Best
Cities in North America," just barely edged out of first place honors. The city is regularly
ranked in the top five best travel destinations in the nation. When you consider the breadth
of the destruction, the comeback of the city to this point is nothing less than incredible.
As TV journalist, Bob Schieffer noted, "Only those who were here in the days after Katrina can
understand what the people of New Orleans have accomplished in bringing this city back."
There's something that many didn't take into account when they believed the city couldn't be
saved and it's this: New Orleans is loved. Her people love her too much to let her die.
Scott Bakula, from the TV series, NCIS: New Orleans, recently said, "I've never been in any
place where people were so proud of their city."
Coming from where they were ten years ago to where they are now, by sheer grit and
gumption, the people of New Orleans have good reason to be proud. Few people outside of
the area will ever know how much.
|August 29, 2005 - August 29, 2015