Monday, February 27, 2006
They lost their homes, but still want to party
Two months ago, I would turn out of my parking garage on the way to work and see the Rocky Mountains. I was CNN's Denver correspondent.

Now, the most memorable sight is endless debris fields. I moved to New Orleans to cover the still unfolding Katrina story.

Sunday night, I found myself sitting on top of a King Midas float, wearing purple satin and gold lame. I had the pleasure of taking part in the Endymion parade, one of New Orleans' annual Mardi Gras events.

A lot has been made about Mardi Gras this year. Should they? Shouldn't they? I can tell you that around 200 of the participants in Endymion lost their homes, lost everything. To a person, everyone we talked to felt the city should throw the annual carnival.

It is hard to show you how widespread the devastation is down here. Homes, entire communities completely wrecked. No real plan to rebuild. It is even harder to explain how difficult day to day life is for many people.

I don't know if the city should have had the party. But, I am glad it did. It is nice to see this city spring to life, if even for a few days.
Posted By Sean Callebs, CNN Correspondent: 9:29 AM ET
It looks a little bit too much for people to party after the big hit last year, but New Orleans need to bring back the tourist to it. Just like Thailand after the tsunami, it is ironic, but we can not life forever in our sadness.....
Posted By Anonymous Regina, Boston, MA : 9:50 AM ET
Thank you for participating in our Mardi Gras. It is a much needed party for the City of New Orleans and the surrounding areas. Mardi Gras is a party put on by private citizens, and it provides jobs and pumps a lot of money into the local economy. We have people employed building floats, sewing costumes, selling throws, not to mention those employed in the hotel and restaurant industry who profit from Mardi Gras. Most of all it is a celebration that brings many families together year after year. Bourbon Street is only one part of Mardi Gras. We would have Mardi Gras even if not one tourist came. All you have to do is look into one child's face as they watch a Mardi Gras parade, you know canceling Mardi Gras would be like canceling Christmas. I'm am especially glad to know that you feel happy that we had Mardi Gras.
Posted By Anonymous Margaret Augustin, River Ridge, Louisiana : 10:08 AM ET
It is nice to see that for a few days the people in New Orleans have something to smile about. I just talked to a father/daughter team from my church who just came back from New Orleans. They took many pictures of the homes they had to clean out but were happy to be back home in Detroit. So, If New Orleans wants to party for a few days, it may be the only semblance back into their lives
Posted By Anonymous TracyLyn Detroit,MI : 10:09 AM ET
I think it was probably a long over due stress release...good for them, they need it deserve it!!
Posted By Anonymous Julia, Dover, DE : 10:11 AM ET
Right or wrong, that's the spirit of our people. Nobody questions whether or not we should celebrate Mardi Gras, of course we should....that's who we are. A hurricane is not going to kill our spirit.

It's a lot like our 'Jazz Funerals'. If you haven't been to one yet, I recommend it. The funeral procession starts off very somber, quiet and black. But the 'parade' soon breaks out and the jazz band is playing and people are dancing...honoring the memory of our loved ones with a good time. Its just the way we are.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!
Posted By Anonymous Marcel, Baton Rouge, Louisiana : 10:11 AM ET
I'm so glad I did not send any money to any organization that wanted to "help" New Orleans. I bet your money went to build a float. How lame are these people!!
Posted By Anonymous Rhonda L, Milwakee WI : 10:16 AM ET

Don't we all need an escape every now and then? The party is for them, not the rest of the world. So, put on your purple satin /gold lame and live it up New Orleans. It's all about HOPE, LOVE and LAUGHTER. The devastation will still be all around you in the morning. It is my hope that after this short break the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast will have renewed strength.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 10:19 AM ET
Mardi Gras is definatly something the city needs. It is an attempt to have something "normal" and familiar in a time where none of us have that. It is sad that many people have not been able to come back. It is sad that people have lost their jobs, homes and family. How long are we supposed to mourn those losses? You can't put a time limit on something like that. Some people adapt better than others. At some point events have to become part of the past and people need to move on. Those experiences need to be used to help people to improve themselves and in the process improve our city.
Posted By Anonymous Alyson Toups-New Orleans, LA : 10:28 AM ET
If you had a bad year, would you cancel Thanksgiving or Christmas? Maybe revelling in their traditional party will help some New Orleans residents feel better and see hope for the future, by keeping their traditions.
Posted By Anonymous Tina -Chicago, IL : 10:39 AM ET
I've seen the people of this city cry for the last 6 months. Those tears were gone for the last week. Many children cannot raise their hands without touching the ceiling of their FEMA trailer. Yesterday I saw children raising their hands high in the air and yelling "throw me something mister." Mardi Gras is so much more than "a party." It's life. It's spirit. It's family. And, that's the only way this city's heart will continue to beat.
Posted By Anonymous Darrell, Kenner LA : 10:43 AM ET
As one who lost all to Katrina, save my life, I was initially hurt by the talk of a raucous party in the midst of despair. Now that it is in full effect, I am okay with it. I even look forward to all the coverage. The media has been exceptional, showing that while there's a party on "the sliver by the river" (the area of the city that did not flood), there's still a tremendous amount of work to be done. It helps to show others that we are still a city and a people who need our country's attention, help and prayers.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B, New Orleanian in Dallas, TX : 10:50 AM ET

I believe it was necessary New Orleans and the surrounding cities needed to celebrate Mardi Gras.

Just like an Italian custom in my family after a person passes away, we have a party after the funeral. We believe life goes on, you will never forget (that person), but the human spirit lives on!

On a lighter note, you looked great on the Endymion float.
Posted By Anonymous Vicki, Long Island, NY : 10:51 AM ET
Yes, New Orleans should have had a party! I lived and studied in New Orleans, and my first Mardi Gras gave me an impression that the event is beyond party in its trivial meaning. There is something magic about it, I could see faces without burden, I could smell the air full of joy and grace. After Katrina and Rita, to my opinion, Mardi Gras is needed more than ever. It brings healing through its "forget life problems for the moment", it is a retreat in different form and release all the stress and tension that people have been carrying on their shoulders so far. Last but not least, it gives a signal to the outside world that New Orleans is still alive with its unsurpassed spirit that make it a place worth a memorable visit. Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!
Posted By Anonymous Chloe Bradbury, Magnolia, TX : 10:54 AM ET
Thank you for taking the time to come down and ride. Whether the expense was yours or CNN's I thank you. The Rocky Mountains are probably our country's greatest natural wonder. After seeing the New Orleans devastation, I am sure they will look more beautiful and fresher than ever. Do us a favor...........don't forget New Orleans and what you have seen, and continue to report on it. CNN has done a great job of letting the country know the truth about the city after Katrina as well as the truth about Mardi Gras. They have told the stories of the individuals who belong to krewes who "pay for the party" as well as the "family side" of Mardi Gras and letting the country know that it is not just drunks on Bourbon Street, but a family tradition which I and may children enjoyed growing up.
Posted By Anonymous Kathleen, Chalmette, La. : 10:55 AM ET
It gives me hope. New Orleans has always been the place of blues, hard luck stories, and festivity. It is amazing that after such devastation they continue their tradition. It may be years before The coast is inhabitable and rebuilt, but the spirit shown by the mardi gras attendants means their spirit is not broken, and that eventually they will recover. It gives me inspiration, and admiration.
Posted By Anonymous sarah shaw, shelby, NC : 10:57 AM ET
Since Mardi Gras has been a part of New Orleans forever, it seems like not having it would have been devasting to morale. It is like the people of the Gulf Coast are living day to day in a War Zone so morale would be very important. When is someone in Washington going to wake up and do something to get the region back online? They can make war in a matter of days and hold nothing back, but months later there is very little signs of progress on the home front. And let's not forget what the Insurance Industry is doing to these poor people as well. Thanks for the report Sean. There are plenty of people who still care.
Posted By Anonymous Judy D., Anderson, IN : 10:59 AM ET
Just getting back a little bit of normalcy is just what they all needed. Being surrounded by the devastion day after day would drag down anyone. Having fun helps rejuvenate them.
Keep up the good work Sean and the rest of the CNN crew for keeping us informed on how it is down there. Its not going away anytime soon. I'm glad Anderson is keeping on the story as well. Hopefully it will help. He is dedicated to "keeping them honest".
Posted By Anonymous Jean, St. Charles, Mo : 11:20 AM ET
Mardi Gras is such an important part of New Orleans, and I for one am glad they continued the tradition.

Loss happens, but life must go on. Celebrations take on new meaning when you can let go of the loss and celebrate with others that have been through it and those who just want to party.

Yes, there are those who are there just for a party. So be it. May all those who attend for whatever reason enjoy life to the fullest and appreciate what they do have (health, sanity, that is what is important).
Posted By Anonymous Anne-Marie, Marin County, CA : 11:22 AM ET
I am glad you were able to have a little fun even if for a short while. I on the other hand in small town in S.C. --not having been involved with Katrina--find it ever more difficult to stop the critics from all the negative feelings they continue to have about those involved with Katrina. I argued yesterday in Sunday School how unless you have walked a mile in someone's shoes you have no idea how you yourself would react to what they have been and are going through. This Mardi Gras --as I know it must have helped emotionally --just makes it a bit more difficult for those of us that keep defending the people directly affected by Katrina. I am sure what we,that were not hit by Katrina, think doesn't matter much but I am trying so hard to make people stop--and think
before judging.....this just makes it a little harder. I will not stop though.....
Posted By Anonymous Margaret Harrison Denmark SC : 11:23 AM ET
Mardi Gras is one of the main ways to get money back into the hurting economy of New Orleans. I say PARTY PARTY PARTY. Mardi Gras produced profit, creates jobs, and will only help in the long run. Besides, if they wait on help from the Federal Gov't and Fema, who knows how long they have to wait for an influx of money.
Posted By Anonymous David, San Antonio-TX : 11:26 AM ET
They might as well party, they have very little of anything left anyway.
Posted By Anonymous Rich, Council Bluffs Iowa : 11:32 AM ET
Tragic events do not wait for the right moment to happen. They can happen during the most joyful moments in life. When someone dies, their loved ones grieve and in time, will eventually come to celebrate life's events once again. Christmas, birthdays, thanksgiving, weddings, and births are some of the joys in life we all get to participate in. Death and pain are also inevitable events in the human experiece. It is important that life goes on even after tragedy and loss.
Posted By Anonymous brenda, richmond hill, ontario : 11:42 AM ET
Glad to see them getting along with enough positive attitude to party and not mope around in despair. But any party requires money. Seems odd that folks would spend money on a party before getting their lives back to normal. Wierd priorities.

If partying IS part of their normal living, then so be it but no complaining about their stuff at that point.

It's a 2-sided coin. Hopefully those who are partying for Mardi Gras have taken their responsibility for feeding andn housing their kids and relatives (those in need anyway) FIRST.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn, Tacoma, WA : 11:59 AM ET
All the troubles and grief the people went through, I feel they need some sort of out and having a party is a perfect way for them to forget about their troubles or problems.
Even if it is for a short time The benefits from forgetting about the stress during this time will probably help thei mental health greatly
Posted By Anonymous Brian S. Freedom Pa. : 11:59 AM ET
Being a life long resident of New Orleans, I am thrilled that Mardi Gras is being celebrated this year. I too lost my home in the storm. And life is still tough here - we go to our jobs during the day, and work on our homes at night and during the weekends. Mardi Gras is giving us a much needed break.

Last night I was at the parades - the crowds all had smiles - something we really don't see enough of these days. The people had fun and it is needed.

When a marching band from Chalmette High School came by (from the hard hit St. Bernard area), the crowd was estatic. It was so heart warming, knowing that these young high school students, who had lost both their homes and schools, could find new uniforms, new instruments, time to practice, and put on their show. I believe it is a testament to the spirit of the citizens of this area - it is not just a party - it is an important annual event, and still have managed to squeeze in time to put on the greatest free show on earth.

I don't know if many people outside of New Orleans really understand how Mardi Gras works - the city doesn't put in on, nor do companies. All of the parades are put on by private individuals. We pay dues to belong to the particular parade organization, to pay for the float construction and city permits to parade. We purchase our own "throws" - beads and trinkets for the crowds. Many of the riders this year are in the same position I am - we lost so much, but yet we are still paying, out of our own pocket, to throw this event. But I know I speak for just about everyone that it is worth the cost. We truly believe in the healing this break has given us, and we all know the importance to our city's tourist industry that Mardi Gras provides. New Orleans may be down, but not out.
Posted By Anonymous Balad Tebo, New Orleans, La : 12:00 PM ET
To have been down here every day for the last six months as a volunteer with the American Red Cross, and to see the people that I have tried to help be at a point that they can actually celebrate, is a milestone and a justification of my efforts. To see them all laughing, celebrating and taking a break from the day-to-day hardships that we all are working through is the "pay-check" that every volunteer is working for. We served 9 thousand meals today. As "bonus pay" we received 9 thousand thank-you's. So New Orleans, thank you for the opportunity to help and congratulations on the milestone.
P.S. We will see you tomorrow.
Posted By Anonymous Ben, New Orleans, LA : 12:22 PM ET
I'm a New Orleans native, temporarily living in Texas since Katrina. I know it's difficult for people unfamiliar with New Orleans to understand how the City can "party" in the midst of all the devastation. I'll try to explain.

New Orleanians are blessed with an optimistic and joyous view of life.
Consider the jazz funeral, where we mourn appropriately, then when the mourning is done, we celebrate that life goes on. That attitude is ingrained in our culture - we learn from little up that life is to be lived to the fullest, and our food and music traditions reflect that love of life.

Mardi Gras is the culmination of this joyous attitude - it's a giant party that we give to ourselves and openly share with visitors. Mardi Gras is the centerpiece of all New Orleans culture, and is the heart of what makes us unique.

Most "locals" experience Mardi Gras very differently from the media-driven images of drunks on Bourbon Street and girls lifting their shirts for beads. Get away from the French Quarter and go up St. Charles Avenue (or Veterans Blvd in the suburbs), where you'll see thousands of families with children, grandmas and grandpas in lawn chairs, folks BBQ'ing and sharing home-cooked goodies, yelling over the crowd to friends on passing floats, while their kids jostle to catch beads and trinkets on the front row. THIS is what Mardi Gras is to us - it's a giant block party, with better entertainment. And it binds us all together in a warm and expressive culture, with roots that go back for generations.

Many people do not realize that Mardi Gras is paid for by the parade participants, NOT the City. The City does pay for police protection and garbage collection, but the parades themselves, parade permits, floats, marching bands, beads and throws, costumes, etc. are ALL paid by the people riding in the parade, at no cost to the City. Plus the City makes significant tax revenue on Mardi Gras-related sales.

By hosting Mardi Gras this year, New Orleans generates some immediate and much-needed income and demonstrates that we still care, we still love our traditions, we WILL carry on, and we are ready and eager to share ourselves with the world again.

This is a critical step in the City's recovery, and equally as important, it shows New Orleanians, wherever they may be, that our unique and beloved culture has not been destroyed along with the buildings.
Posted By Anonymous Sue, temporarily in Houston, TX : 12:29 PM ET
I'm glad that New Orleans decided to go ahead with Mardi Gras. With so much tragedy and heartache, the citizens of that community need an escape. If partying can get them away from the hurt for a few days, god bless them. The weather cannot be controled, but if they can find even a bit of peace and sanctity through this festival, we should all support them. Have fun, you deserve it more than ever.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Frazer, PA : 12:34 PM ET
Maybe the folks who were able to organize the Mardis Gras this year amid the devastation should have been the ones organizing the local relief efforts after the storm; the other local folks showed their obvious lack of organizational skills. And or real plan to rebuild, etc.?? So where has all the money gone so far?
Posted By Anonymous Bryan Holt, Charlottesville VA : 12:37 PM ET
My husband and I are native New Orleanians who have lived here all of our lives. Actually my hiuband did live in New York for a couple of years and is one of the few New Orleanians to have attended Woodstock.
We were not in favor of parading this year. People talk about canceling Mardi Gras but that is not possible cause it's in our DNA. But we could cancel the parades and that is what we felt should be done.
Our daughter and son-in-law are currently living in Birmingham and they came in this weekend and we alll went to the parades. It was a very bitter-sweet moment for all of us. There are only a handful of our local marching bands who are able to perform but we had such a feeling of pride for those who did march. We watched them go by and cheered and clapped with tears running down our faces.
I know the City desperately needs the tax dollars this Mardi Gras will bring in and for a little while we were able to pretend everything is okay. Beleive me, reality will set back in very soon. You will drive by it as you leave the parade routes. But for a few moments, with heavy hearts, we can forget. We are grieving for our lost City and we can cherish our memories of the good times past while we move into our future.
Posted By Anonymous Bonnie Dugas New Orleans, La. : 12:42 PM ET
You have to understand, for New Orleans not to have Mardi Gras would be to admit defeat. You won't find many New Orleanians willing to do that!
Posted By Anonymous Patrick, Baton Rouge, LA : 12:44 PM ET
You're so depressing. I was there having the best time in my life, why shouldn't the city be celebrating? We're alive.
Posted By Anonymous Rhodes, New Orleans, LA : 12:48 PM ET
This party is a scam and a cover-up. The people who lost everything and are still homeless at this moment are not wanting to just party. It is the business and money interrest that want this Mardi Gras farse! Now that the Katrina operation is officially wrapped up in a neat little report and New Orleans/ New Atlantis is officially gentrified(white washed) all is supposed to be right with the world. Thousands of poor are dead. The "refugees" who survived are now scattered across the US and the media wants to party and move on.

This is a Disgrace!
Posted By Anonymous Malvestor, Greensboro, NC. : 12:53 PM ET
I'm glad that they had the chance to party. Their stress level has been pegged for the last six months and everyone deserves to blow off some long as they do it safe and legal.
Posted By Anonymous Tim Cullen: Beltsville, MD : 1:07 PM ET
Its great that everyone down there finally has a chance to smile, that something that they haven't been able to do for a long long time.
Posted By Anonymous Claire, Marquette, MI : 1:09 PM ET
The residents of New Orleans care so much about their city. Their passion seems to be a source of strength and motivation to them to bring back the New Orleans they love so much. There's such a long way to go, but the tradition of Mardi Gras is an important step in rebuilding. It may not have raised houses, but it undoubtedly raised spirits, and that counts for quite a lot.
Posted By Anonymous Molly, Richmond, VA : 1:17 PM ET
Good for Them! It's nice to see they have have the character and integrity to spend their FEMA money in a wise and efficient way.
Posted By Anonymous Laura Jennings, Boston MA : 1:33 PM ET
The only way to get through tragedies is to let loose and add a little fun and humor now and then, and what better way for New Orleans to start recovering than to have Mardi Gras. The city deserves a great time and a chance to forget Katrina's aftermath for a while. Have fun, guys!
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 2:20 PM ET
Who are we to judge if the money on mardi gras could have been better spent. As far as I can see, the emotional value of mardi gras is priceless and who more than the people of New Orleans deserve a few worry free days of fun.
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Monroe, Ct. : 2:42 PM ET
The N.O. Mardi Gras phenomena is not well understood elsewhere. It is not put on by the city, or any authority butis a party N.O. puts on for itself - played at all levels, in many different ways, over an extended period,& by many whole families - Not primarily for tourists - Of course we are flatterd by them, the restaurants & hotels need them, & the city govvermant benefits from the revenue; but it would be much the same without them - M.G. starts on 12th night (Jan 6) with 1 to 3 formal (most white tie) balls - thousands work all year on their truck float for M.G. day, Many others work on elaborate costumes - in the parades here is a lot of interaction between the crowd and the riders - the crowds are trained (as are the police); trouble is rare � many can�t come (billions), nevertheless, in short, IT'S WHAT WE DO!
Posted By Anonymous Carl Brown - New Orleans, LA : 3:02 PM ET
Six months is a long time to go without any type of stress relief. GFY New Orleans for taking a few days to unwind. 4 months after 9/11 did the ball not still drop in New York signaling the start of a NEW YEAR? Did those people not party? I vacation in Gulf Shores AL every year (except 2004!) I haven't stopped going and spending my money just because Hurricane Ivan almost wiped it off the map. They need my money and I need the stress relief! Hurricane season is only 95 days away...carp diem!
Posted By Anonymous JC, Poplar Bluff, MO : 3:08 PM ET
I don't have a problem with their partying as long as they use their proceeds to rebuild and to get their people out of hotels and motels at the taxpayers expense. What a great idea to raise money for themselves and stop expecting everyone else in the US and the goverment to foot their bills! I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling that maybe the money my children raised for relief efforts may have purchased a new set of beer mugs. Maybe the money they are spending would have been better spent on new clothes for a child left without instead of a festive Mardi Gras costume!
Posted By Anonymous Sandra H. ,Berkeley Springs West Virigina : 3:11 PM ET
I was down in the French Quarter in costume on Sunday which is my usual routine with a group of friends. We are frequently asked if people can take photos of us and we include them in the pictures. It is a lot of fun. Yesterday was much quieter than usual and the funny thing was all of the people that thanked us just for dressing up. But of course, that is what I have been saying to everyone I meet who has helped in our area in some way. We appreciate the help that we have received. Nope, I didn't get any of that FEMA money and if I did get it I surely could not afford to ride in a parade. We all know there has been fraud with the FEMA funds and there was fraud after 9/11. Still, the areas that we can work on improving is the bureaucratic waste. That is where I get angry.
Posted By Anonymous Patti, Diamondhead, MS : 3:35 PM ET
I laughed when I read those remarks about spending FEMA money on parades. Give me a break. The only expense in going to a parade is the cost of gas and parking, if you park in a paying lot. If you chose to bring something to eat and drink, then that too.

And the folks that lost homes but are still riding in the parades-they probably didn't get FEMA money.

But it's easier to make sweeping judgements, isn't it?

And many people here are not going to parades. The parking lots at the Home Depots are more full than some areas of the parade routes.
Posted By Anonymous Anna, New Orleans, LA : 4:27 PM ET
I'm sitting here in my office reading the idiotic comments from some of the most self righteous people I have ever heard. Mostly, outsiders who have never visited here and who don't seem to know their heads from their(you know what's)! How many times does someone have to explain it to you?Mardi Gras is not a wasteful party for drunk tourists. It's not an event that causes people to choose drinking over providing for their families. As a native, I have never even observed Mardi Gras from the French Quarter. I've never flashed anyone, nor gotten arrested for public intoxication. For the most part,it is a family event that brings neighborhoods and communities together. Think religous revival on the grandest of scales. My family has been watching the parades from the same friend's house since before I was born. Also, the city does not shoulder the cost, it's mostly the private citizens. A lot of the traditional Krewe's are made up of relatively well to do members of the community and some of it's oldest families. So in a sense it is the wealthy putting on a free party for those who may not be as fortunate. Now could someone please tell me what is so disgraceful about that! They're not exactly waiting for their FEMA check so they can buy an extra six pack and some beads.... Before you preach anymore, stop by sometime and get your facts straight! Oh and spend some money while you're here because Mardi Gras is also a great for our economy.
Posted By Anonymous Nicole, New Orleans, LA : 5:06 PM ET
Today on my way to work, I saw the Rocky Mountains. 6 months ago on my way to work, I saw the Mississippi River as I strolled through the French Quarter, my hood. I'd trade places with Calebs any day. Those who see Mardi Gras as just another party scene don't understand the tradition, history and culture of the people of New Orleans. Mardi Gras is always for the people. We invite the rest of the world to join us for the greatest party on earth, but it is for the citizens first. So even though this year is Mardi Gras in Exile for the majority of citizens, we proudly cheer ya'll on long distance. The beads & boobs fly on Bourbon Street every night of the year and those are the TOURISTS who fling and flash, not the locals.
Posted By Anonymous Amy Clark Estes Park, CO : 5:19 PM ET
To Rhonda L., Milwaukee, WI: Relief money does not go to float building, trinkets, or hoopla. These things were all paid for by the people of the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas. I understand that the police have even shifted coverage to help defray overtime costs. My entire family was without homes for a minimum of a month -- without income for a period, and fearful of what the outcome would be. On short notice, my college-aged niece will be riding in a parade on Mardi Gras Day because so few people are back -- and my sister and her husband paid for every single strand of beads she will throw. It's a good thing you did not send money to the relief fund, Rhonda -- I think the people of New Orleans, who need to stimulate their economy and their wounded spirits, would not have wanted the mean-spirited strings you would have attached.
Posted By Anonymous Pat Duffey, Hickory, NC : 5:32 PM ET
Why are they trying to glorify mardi gras? Aside from how spiritual or cultural mardi gras is, it still doesn't change the fact that people are still homeless and hungry. I've been there and I saw how great it was...and yet, I still believe that there are priorities.
Posted By Anonymous Jean, Seattle, WA : 7:08 PM ET
Just wanted to say to all down south, I am glad to see that maybe a little of your life is coming back together. I pray for all of you to be able to come home where you belong. May God Bless all of the Katrina victims.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy, Norfolk, Va. : 9:08 PM ET
this has nothing to do with mardi gras in new orleans. i am from lake charles,la . The people here and surrounding areas especially in Cameron parish, louisiana, have it just as bad or worst and no one not even the press speak much of this area. i understand new orleans has been through a lot but they were not even hit by a hurricane it was just flooded it makes no sense. And me my self is getting very tired of hearing about new orleans , we feel like the people in mississippi now .
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan lake charles,la : 11:34 PM ET
Thank you for keeping us in people's mind . If not for you the fickle mind of the American peopole (us included)would forget us. I'll never be fickle again when I see other people's troubles and suffering. My husband and I had our own house of 2000 sq ft., but now we live in Arkansas in a 800 sq ft apt. It is hard and it's depressing, but we can't complain, we're better than most. It doesn't mean we're not still depressed and having lots or depression and emotional problems. we miss our home, we don't have one , and nothing is normal.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Soheila (pronounced Sohayla) and Barry
Posted By Anonymous Sohayla, New Orleans, LA : 1:03 AM ET
Three of my children live in New Orleans and they and their in laws lost three out of four of their houses. I mean lost not part of but all of their homes (EVERYTHING) I can tell you "They are having a wonderful time" with Mardi Gras this year. The depression, suffered and the every day dissapointment can not be discribed. They have gone through such a hard year and people in the other parts of the world just don't seem to understand. Others can't even try to feel what it is like to go shopping for instance and have to wait for hours just to check out with your groceries or not to be able to shop at all because the parking lot is full and they can't find a place to park. Or to stand where your home used to be and just look for one little piece of your belongings. Even a little keep sake makes them feel better. Anderson you are doing a wonderful job and we just hope you never go away because there are not many people in the US who are thinking about the south and how they will rebuild. So even if you feel Mardi Gras is a foolish expense for those in New Orleans just talk to my son on the phone today and hear the laughter and enjoyment in his voice and then put that in your prayers and do something to help. Even if it just a prayer before you go to bed to help those in need. Just remember you can never walk in anyone elses shoes until you have been there yourself. I'm sure those who complain haven't ever worn the shoes my children are wearing now.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Lesser Mountain View, California : 1:26 PM ET
I've seen so many people that contract cancer after having to care for a family member with a major illness for an extended length of time. I think we should look at stress as a cause for the cancer.
Posted By Anonymous Rana, Longview, TX : 4:31 PM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

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