Friday, January 12, 2007
New Orleans, circa 1942
Samuel Rumsey points to the yard next to his house and remembers when cows used to roam here. Rumsey is 87 years old, and his house was the first one on this block of the Lower Ninth Ward back in the 1940s.

His family grew and built around him. The Rumseys pretty much owned the block. Then Katrina struck and they scattered; all of them except for Samuel. He's back and slowly rebuilding, living in a FEMA trailer in the front yard of his house. There's still spray paint on the house where first responders checked for dead bodies.

We've seen many faces of the Lower Ninth Ward: First it was just underwater, next it was soggy and collapsed, then it was brittle and rotting, and now it just feels like a wasteland -- houses are razed and there's simply no one around.

The city says residents can move back in down here, but there remains confusion about FEMA flood codes and rumors still persist the city will eventually knock everything down and make it into a park. Even to the people who are trying to rebuild down here, it's not an outrageous idea -- the Industrial Canal levee certainly looks strong, but it looked the same way 17 months ago, and it's collapse is a vivid nightmare.

Nonetheless, Samuel Rumsey is determined to rebuild, and start over. He says he remembers being the first one here in 1942, and he smiles as he says it feels like those early days all over again.
Posted By Charlie Moore, CNN Senior Producer: 7:43 AM ET
  28 Comments
Hey Charlie:
The resilience and determination of both Samuel Rumsey and the elderly gentleman that Anderson interviewed last night should be a powerful example to everyone including other Katrina survivors, of what can be accomplished when you set your mind to something. I realize that in the cases of multiple family members it would not be quite so easy to stay there and just pick at it a bit of a time though.
Its really inspiring to see what can be done. Thanks so much for these two lovely stories. We needed to hear something positive about post-Katrina for a change.
I think Anderson & Company's presence there makes a big difference to the residents trying to survive. When you guys are there keeping them honest, they still have reason to hope.
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 9:44 AM ET
And yet President Bush's new best friend Joe Lieberman, is dropping the investigation into the handling of Katrina. White House was reluctant to turn over requested papers anyway. Could you and Anderson do a follow-up to that, please? Apparently Lieberman isn't interested anymore.
Posted By Anonymous George Snyder, Los Angeles, CA : 9:47 AM ET
Anderson,
I watched the show last night and I too have stood in the exact place that you did. I have walked in the homes devastated by this disaster had my local newspaper write an article on my trips to spread awareness still; I wish I could do more. I traveled over there several times to bring commerce back into the city. I continue to donation time, money and prayers to these people and see very little change in the conditions.
A 90 year old man building his home again is an atrocity. He should be on the front porch of his home watching his grandchildren play in the yard.
Please continue to report on this city and its people. Also, please keep in mind while New Orleans was not the only city impacted and still feeling losses due to this hurricane. I have also traveled to the Gulf area. They too need coverage.

Thank you for being a great reporter.
Courtney Rawlins
Pooler, GA
Posted By Anonymous Courtney Rawlins Pooler, GA : 10:23 AM ET
One word. Heartbreaking. Absolutely Heartbreaking. Why is the government ignoring a mistake that is absolutely inexcusable? Isn't there someone, some way, somehow to make the person responsible come forward and admit it, fix it, to pay a price? Is it that easy for all of America to ignore as well? Why aren't fellow citizens banning together to create one strong voice saying: We will be heard, we want answers and won't stop until we get some. America came together during 9/11 and we now divide (between government, citizens, and criminals) over a natural disaster? How many lives will it take Mr. President?
Posted By Anonymous Melissa, Canonsburg, PA : 10:27 AM ET
Thanks so much for keeping us all updated with what is happening in New Orleans (she says sarcastically). Now, for the really hard question, when is the media going to do the same type of in-depth reporting on Mississipppi's Gulf Coast, including the devastation, the progress and process of rebuilding, etc., as they have on New Orleans?

I am beyond sick and tired or hearing about New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans. On August 29, 2005, I was a resident of Mississippi's Gulf Coast. (I have recently moved, completely unrelated to the storm, simply because due to my husband's employment). We evacuated to Baton Rouge and the only way we could get any information about Mississippi was to return to Mississippi. We were fortunate, we had someplace else to stay until we had electricity restored in our neighborhood. But the only way we could keep track of what was happening in Mississippi was to drive from Baton Rouge to Mississippi - when gas was $3.00 a gallon and in short supply.

Now that I have moved, it seems to be even worse. All the news outlets presents is New Orleans. I doubt very seriously if the majority of the country realizes that there was as much, if not more, damage to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi because all the news and media outlets want to concentrate on New Orleans.

Please, pull your collective heads out of the sand and present the well-balanced news you advertise. Specifically, report the whole story of Katrina and the damage - from New Orleans to Mobile, AL, and ALL the communities in between.
Posted By Anonymous Janet M., Norfolk, VA : 10:31 AM ET
What is imperitive to know, is there is no rebuilding going on. It is really a messed up situation. People that were forced to relocate into other states found that the school systems were much better in those states and have stayed. People say "Why don't they demolish everything?" Who is "they"? No money. Where would you do with all of the debris? Maybe in 10 years or so, the city of New Orleans will be what it was. Then again, maybe not.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Miller, New Orleans Louisiana : 10:39 AM ET
God bless Samuel Rumsey and his courage and commitment to his home. This is the news that gets lost in the reports of murder, mayhem,looting and corruption. Keep going back Anderson. People in this country need to know that NOLA is not a throw-away city. Bad(and tragic) things happen there, but there are also good people who need support, emotional as well as in dollars.
Posted By Anonymous Maryann Mercer, Champaign Il : 10:43 AM ET
I can appreciate that people want to rebuild their city and their lives. I give people like Mr. Rumsey alot of credit for having the courage to stick it out through all the problems and try to rebuild when it would be so much easier to relocate.

Not having lived through what those people did, I can't say for sure what I'd do. To rebuild or not to rebuild? The danger will always be there, that's for sure. And the danger will increase as those levys age, and with each additional battering they take from each future storm. Who can say for sure when or if they will break again?

My heart goes out to those people down there. Our government should defintely have been doing more to them all along. I hope things gets better for them soon.
Posted By Anonymous Bill W, Coatesville, PA : 10:58 AM ET
Hi Charlie,
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that Mr. Rumsey should be able at 87 years young, to rebuild his home. Is there any contact info where we could send donations? One person at a time, that's probabaly going to be how Katrina survivors will prevail. Slowly, but it will happen. They will rebuild despite the obstacles that seem so overwhelming today. Mr. Rumsey is a real role model and rebuilding your home is not much to ask from life at any age, let alone 87. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif : 11:02 AM ET
Many people from other parts of the country believe the displaced people of New Orleans should simply relocate to other cities. Well, that's a whole lot easier said, than done.

New Orleans is their home and the word home includes much more than just the physical place where people live. Home is also the place where our memories and strong feelings of family reside.

I wish Samuel Rumsey and all the other displaced citizens of New Orleans the best of luck in rebuilding both their houses, and their homes.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 11:03 AM ET
Nothing in life is perfectly safe and secure, and the levee failure in New Orleans demonstrated that to the entire nation. Toronadoes strike in the midwest, hurricanes batter on the East coast, and earthquakes are a risk on West coast. Rather than spend infinite amounts of time assessing whether the Lower Ninth Ward is completely free from risk of a natural disaster, the powers that be should simply make a decision so that people like Mr. Rumsey can rebuild their homes and their lives in the neighborhoods where they have resided for decades. I admire Mr. Rumsey's spirit and his determination; perhaps he will inspire others to rebuild as well.
Posted By Anonymous Marge Watchorn, Baltimore, MD : 11:12 AM ET
How can they expect people to move anywhere in the Gulf Coast let alone the Lower Ninth when the insurance compaies keep giving them the runaround. And even if they do get their insurance claims they have to contend with the costs of insurance on their refurbished home(more reasonable cost) or a totally new structure(atronomical cost)

One final thought what about utilities - you can rebuild or build anew, but if you don't have utilities you still can't live there. My understanding is that there are areas in the other parishes that still do not have utilities. How do they expect these people to come back rebuild and continue on with their lives.

Sorry, but this whole situation gets under my skin. It shouldn't be happening to the people of one of the richest country in the world let alone the Gulf Area - what has happened to us.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren MI : 11:41 AM ET
Smile all you want about it feeling 'like those early days all over again', because I assure you that people of the ninth ward will be crying 'like those early days of Katrina all over again' when the next hurricane hits. YOU WERE WARNED THIS TIME, don't forget it.
Everything that flooded after Katrina should be left underwater, what nature wants it gets--eventually. If it didn't claim it this time it will the next time a hurricane hits NO. If we as a nation allow people to move back inspite of the fact that they will be flooded again, we should do it with a small stipulation: if you get flooded out again, whether by a foot or 10 feet of water, you assume ALL responsibility for life and property. No help, no first responders, no aid, you are on your own.
All I have to ask of the people like Samuel Rumsey is: Why did you re-elect the people who didn't protect you the first time? They all knew for decades that this could, and would, happen. Shame on you for thinking that we Americans should bail you out while you throw mud in our faces by re-electing people who can't do their jobs.
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 12:11 PM ET
Hey Charlie, These people must have a tremendous attachmnet to their land or home. They are trying to rebuild in an area that is filled with other rotting homes and with the possibility that the leveys will fail again. It makes no sense to me, but I am not walking in their shoes.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn Michigan : 12:21 PM ET
I don't understand why more people aren't back in NOLA rebuilding their own homes and cleaning up their property. It just doesn't make sense to EXPECT someone else to clean up the mess and make it better than it was THEN the people will come back. Sweat equity people.
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 12:28 PM ET
It seems so bitter and sad that United States of America can spend billions of dollars and sacrifice thousands of young men and women to fight a war on the otherside of the world, yet they can't take care of their own people. Where is that American pride of "the best country in the world to live"? Your own people in New Orleans are neglected, frustrated and down-troddened, and there is no leader in sight to step up and solve the problems. Not "help", SOLVE. The funny thing is this, you don't need the money or thousands of people. Just ONE leader. One good leader. If I say that you are a sorry, pethetic lot and a joke to the world, would that provoke shame and outrage to finally get something done? What about this.. 3000 of your young men and women died in Iraq, wearing the pride of a mighty country, yet wouldn't they be embarrassed that their own country can't get it together. As a Canadian, I ache for the people of New Orleans, but I also pity the uselessness of their "leaders".
Posted By Anonymous I.H. Gow, Toronto, Canada : 12:31 PM ET
Katrina in general has been one massive disappointment after another. From the reaction of the government to the disgrace that is some people's way of cheating and stealing, both right after and til this day. Contractors that aren't doing their job and a mayor who can't seem to find his way.

Look for some of you to understand how things work in New Orleans its gonna take a trip there to see for yourself. Doing business there takes a different outlook to say the least. There ARE many people in business and municipal offcials that will never change their way of doing business. There will be payoffs and under the table deals. Ask most anyone who lives there and they will tell you its crooked and always has been. So to expect the clean up and rebuild to go along without a few thousand snags while people still suffer is unreal.

I hope that all sides will learn from this horrible experience, but I doubt it will happen.
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Houston, TX : 1:06 PM ET
From all the reporting you have done from New Orleans, Anderson, if one did not know better they would think that New Orleans was the only city affected by Katrina.

Perhaps a little more balanced reporting would be nice and tell us about any other areas that may have been affected by this hurricane.
Posted By Anonymous Missy, Fairfield, Connecticut : 1:19 PM ET
Thanks for the interview with the elderly man who is rebuilding his home so that his wife can rejoin him in New Orleans. This gentleman stated that he needed some cabinets. Perhaps Bob Nardelli, Home Depot's former CEO who is currently collecting a generous $210 million severance package, could be persuaded to share some of his good fortune with this man. Maybe Bob could offer to donate some cabinets - Home Depot does have a fine selection. Could someone at CNN call Mr. Nardelli and ask him if he would be willing to help?
Posted By Anonymous Julie San Diego, CA : 1:25 PM ET
I agree with Marge-MD, There are risks no matter where you live nowadays. Two years ago I would have agreed with all the people that are saying not to rebuild and you should have learned your lesson. The weather we have been experiencing is down right frightening, and its not just a few areas its all over the world.
I'd hate to see Katrina survivors move to California only to experience a tsunami or an earthquake!
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Scarboro Ontario Canada : 2:27 PM ET
What a mess! If I were in my 70's or older, I wouldn't want to rebuild somewhere else, if this was where I had been living for many many years...
I have to admit, I was one of the ones that sniffed the air and said "they live in a flood zone, probably don't have insurance, probably didn't even own their own their homes", all the while dismissing all that was lost, BECAUSE it was easier for me to sleep at night... But CNN keeps returning and forcing the complacent to maybe pay attention, and realize it is still a huge problem... I certainly didn't know there were parts that didn't have power still... But, on the other hand, there is little I can do, but write and say "you're right, something has to be done" ... Or figure out who to blame... There is an old saying "the wheel that squeeks the loudest gets the oil" ... CNN, continue to "squeek" loud and clear, you have my attention, and hopefully soon you'll have enough folks paying attention, that something will get done... CNN, you will also have to speak clearly so WE know what to do to help... Most of us feel for these people, but are helpless when it comes to knowing exactly what to do to help... Thanks CNN and keep up the superb work...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota, Fl : 3:36 PM ET
Read the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and you may get an inkling of what is going on in this country. Though long ago, there are definitely great similarities: Corruption, greed, lack of government/leadership, no real listening to the needs of the average citizen. We are gradually crumbling, from within and without. Pessimistic? No. Realistic? Yes. Unless the people of this nation stands enmasse, against the dismal state of affairs in this country, and an atrocious war [and for what?] on foreign soil, we cannot hope to better the situation. May God help us.
Posted By Anonymous E C Pineville, Louisiana : 4:21 PM ET
After watching last night's show, I felt as if someone had hit the pause button and forgotten to restart play. The lower 9th looks the same as the last time you were there. Is the city waiting for people to move on, so they can have the land? I'm sure most of the residents can't afford to start rebuilding without help from the government. It sounds like all of that money will be tied up for years to come. Kudos to the gentlemen you and Anderson talked with. They can teach us all a lesson or two! Thanks for keeping us updated.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:26 PM ET
As a Louisianan, my heart has been bleeding for New Orleans for a very long time. It gives me hope to hear that the re-building begins anew in the 9th Ward and by those who have always lived there. Mt. Gettridge and Mr. Rumsey, the gentlemen you've profiled remind me of the brave men in my family who luckily are not in the process of re-building.I find it incredible and wonderful that they are, but I agree with others in asking: "Why isn't our country giving ALL the money we need to help re-build. Not just in New Orleans but everywhere that Katrina struck?"
Posted By Anonymous Audrey Antley, Hollywood, California : 3:13 AM ET
EM in Toronto - more people aren't rebuilding because they don't have the money. So many people live paycheck to paycheck with little to no savings. Imagine if you lost everything, your house was totally underwater in a flood.

Its easy to say go rebuild it. But where does the money come from? The government didn't help them, and most insurances don't cover loss from water of any kind. For most of these people, its not just a matter of drying stuff out. That kind of water destroys foundations and structures. It almost wiped out the Superdome, so imagine what it did to people's houses.

No matter how hard you''re willing to work, you need money to rebuild - and most of the people don't have it.
Posted By Anonymous Bill W, Coatesville PA : 1:39 PM ET
A touch of the human face, etched with determination. Thanks for telling about Samuel.
Posted By Anonymous M. A. Moore: Tallahassee, Fl. : 5:31 PM ET
I'm sorry that people -Janet M Norfolk,VA or anyone else whom may feel this way- are tired of hearing about New Orleans, but apparently the nation hasn't heard or seen enough. According to other blog responses people don't know that murders and violence are on the rise. Areas in the ciy aren't being touched-yes there is electricity, but no people. Is that happening anywhere else on the Gulf Coast??? Mississippi recieved more money than Louisiana and faster (wait I already know the response-the politicians). Fewer than 50 LRA checks have been handed out(last I heard), has that happened anywhere else on the Coast? Pictures I've seen of Mississippi show big beautiful houses rebuilt. Why not here? Don't get it wrong-houses are being rebuilt, we are getting stronger, but not fast enough. Yes, I know it is 17 months after Katrina and it seems like time should be healing us, but it is not. It takes more than time. Thankfully the Quarter and other tourist places were saved, because God knows we need tourists, we need some sort of revenue. The small busineses are drowning, they don't know if they will make it one month to the next. Here is a plea for them as well, if you visit go and shop there first before you shop at the "big retail" stores. Here is another request, take a tour of the storm ravaged parts-not to gawk or be nosy-but to see first hand what the residents of this great city see every day. Maybe every one who is "tired" needs to see this too. It is VERY different in person. It does not nearly have the same effect on a TV, no matter how big or small. Not even enough of our US Senate & Congress has seen enough. Which brings me to another point- WHT ARE THEY DROPPING THE INVESTIGATION????? How can we let them do this? Or should I say- Do we have any controll over it?
please Anderson, don't stop reporting from and about New Orleans and thank you for still shedding light on all of us.
Posted By Anonymous Jen New Orleans,LA : 12:21 AM ET
This may seem harsh. But just my opinion. The sense of entitlement that has gone on with this has me scratching my head. Why should the government pay for all of this? I don't rely on the government for help and never will. I live in Eastern, NC. There was horrible flooding not long ago (1999) and the after effects are still here.

I have chosen to be here. This is my risk and I have assumed it. If another flood comes and floods me out? I don't have anyone to blame but myself for living here. Why should I have assistance? I also don't have flood insurance. Again this is my risk!!

I take care of myself and don't expect others to do it for me. Get a grip people!!!! I work hard for what I have and should not be forced to give it away through taxes to bail out someone that chooses not to take advantage of what's out there to better themselves. If you are in a crime-filled neighborhood? Move. Flooded out area? Move. Below the poverty level? Take advantage of scholarships to go to school. You get the better paying jobs that way. This is not rocket science. I am all for my tax dollars being used for education that will allow people to move out of bad situations instead of rebuilding for people who would continue to look for handouts while remaining in their bad situations.

New Orleans should be rebuilt. By its' citizens who choose to do so through their own hard work. I don't have an issue with helping to educate. But for goodness sake do something with the education that will allow you to take care of yourself.

We'd be in a much better place as a country!!
Posted By Anonymous Mo, Greenville NC : 2:19 PM ET
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