Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Sign of life in decimated neighborhood
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana -- Two years ago, I rode out Hurricane Katrina at a hotel in the Central Business District of New Orleans. By mid-morning, many of the hotel's employees were talking to family members and friends in the Lower 9th Ward who were already on rooftops seeking help to get away from rising floodwaters. But it wasn't until later that night that I realized just how horrible the situation was.

On Monday night around 6 p.m., I went out with Tommy Evans, another "360" producer, and Mike Miller, a cameraman from Miami. We were chasing a tip that people were stuck inside City Hall when we ran into an officer who was patrolling that area. He told us about another area of the city where people were being rescued off rooftops and let us follow him to that location.

When I stepped out of the car on a bridge on I-10 overlooking Elysian Fields, I heard dogs howling and people screaming for help and I saw a family in a boat headed to the on-ramp. The fire department had set up some lights to help the rescuers. I couldn't believe that this neighborhood, which was not that close to the lake, river, or any canal, had about six feet of water in it.

I drove around that neighborhood yesterday. Blue tarps still cover holes in roofs where people used axes and any means possible to escape their homes. There is also progress. Many of the residents are returning and trying to rebuild their homes.

Every time I return to the New Orleans area with Anderson and the "360" team, I am amazed by the resilience of many of the residents. It's been two years since Katrina changed this city that I love. And while myriad businesses have re-opened and many residents have returned, there is still much work to be done.

-- By Kaye Jones, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 11:54 AM ET
I was in New Orleans for a convention recently Kaye, and was happy to see a lot of renovation, especially in Mid-City. I urge organizatins to consider New Orleans for their yearly conventions- you'll find the people grateful and gracious and the culture still thriving.
Posted By Marianne Schlegelmilch, St. Louis, MO : 12:21 PM ET
Thank you for keeping the hope alive. New Orleans is an American treasure.
Posted By Laura U., Rockford, Ill. : 12:23 PM ET
With all the money appropriated to the Gulf by Congress to help rebuild the area, not a single house has yet been built with government money. It has not reached the people who need it most.
Posted By Bob- Boise, Idaho : 12:26 PM ET
Thank you for returning to the Gulf Coast. I think it's important to point out that there's a fundamental problem with government red tape down here.

The money allocated was not given directly to families. It's paid mostly to hotels and contractors. The problem then, is that the govenment doesn't hold anyone accountable for the money. There's a lack of communication and a lack of local leadership that makes things even more frustrating.
Posted By George C., Waveland, Ms. : 12:31 PM ET
We need some new blood down there in New Orleans. Years of federal money being wasted. Yeah, that was MY money. The stories of fraud and corruption in La. are legend. Now who can say where federal Katrina money is going?
Posted By Steve - Peoria, IL : 12:36 PM ET
I feel sorry for renters who called N.O. home but can't find affordable housing to return. Seems the only people saying things are progressing in New Orleans are the wealthty business owners.
Posted By Jerry A., Augusta, Ga. : 12:41 PM ET
Spending several months of the year working in and around New Orleans, I see a spirit that is uniquely Southern. Many around the city have lost homes, family members, friends, jobs and whole ways of life, but want to come back and believe in their city and the goodness of people and even strangers.
Posted By Donald P., Brentwood, Tenn. : 12:54 PM ET
Thank you Anderson and Soledad for going back to show us what's going on withthe people in New Orleans- I could find New Orleans on a map!
We'll keep "y-all" in our thoughts and prayers.
Posted By Andy-- Boston , MA : 12:58 PM ET
I wish the public and all the politicians would stop thinking "who is to blame?" We're only given a short time here on earth, let's stop wasting precious time looking back when we should be looking forward and helping our fellow man in any way we can.
Posted By jefferson d., st. louis, mo. : 1:11 PM ET
I am still amazed about how much devastation still remains in New Orleans. People just don't realize how horrible Katrina was until they see it from themselves. All the reporting 360 has done is the only way most of us "get it" as you seem to be one of the few shows that get into the nitty-gritty of it all. Thank you for opening our eyes and my prayers go out to the people still trying to re-build there lives.
Posted By Tiffany, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 1:14 PM ET
We all know that a house is just a building, but a home holds our hearts and souls.
I still hope for every person who wants to return to Louisiana and Mississippi that they can achieve that dream of coming "home."
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 1:16 PM ET
Who decides how the city develops? Is the admoinistration going to pour money into housing developments in areas that are five feet or more below sea level, only to find that the people don't come back? Now that we know flooding is possible why build on what is essentially marshland?
Posted By E. Gorey- Mississippi : 1:18 PM ET
If our only saving grace is to look to the future after learning from the past, let us hope that the future leaders of New Orleans are accountable for their actions and that they care more about their city than personal ambition.
Posted By Dane, Kenner, La. : 1:22 PM ET
There is much to be done, in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The Mississippi Gulf Coast, which took the brunt of the storm has shown a great deal of progress for some time now, even though several coastal Mississippi towns were almost completely destroyed by Katrina.
Posted By Anonymous : 1:27 PM ET
The image of Ray Nagin practically kissing President Bush is just too much . I mean, what are they congratulating each other about?
Posted By Mike Hodges, Oklahoma City, OK : 1:31 PM ET
Is New Orleans worth re-buliding? Before answering that, think if it was your home; what would your answer be?
Posted By Bobbie, Grand Junction, CO. : 1:34 PM ET
There's been such a deluge of money, resources and technical expertise, Ijust hope that the leaders in New Orleans and Lousiana have some plan to keep the character of the city. Please don't let it turn into another generic strip mall-suburban cookie cutter house-type of American city.
Posted By Mark S. - Providence, RI : 1:38 PM ET
we're still here, we're still strong and we're gonna make it !
Posted By michelle delpiero- tulane univer. : 1:40 PM ET
I am really shocked that all of those houses are still there in the same condition as the day Katrina hit!! That is a shame!! The officials there should be held accountable for all of that mess not being cleaned up!! But I am glad to know that there is really progress coming along in that area. I just hope that it continues and that it isn't too little too late!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 1:42 PM ET
why dont you ever report on the five days warning that people were given to save their lives. do you ever come across poeple in your interviews who have regrets about not heeding the warnings?
Posted By Anonymous : 1:48 PM ET
Yes there is a lot going on here in New Orleans-- and it isn't all bad. One thing we don't say down here is - Oh just let's just give up!
Posted By Randi W., New Orleans : 1:55 PM ET
Kaye, and the 360 crew--

Thank you for returning to the Gulf Coast. Your account of what you saw two years ago, and what you are seeing now, paints a very vivid picture. Not just of the works that still needs to be done, but of the hope that still lives in the hearts and the lives of the people of New Orleans. We could all stand to learn a lesson from the resilience, bravery and optimism of NOLA/Gulf Coast residents. And I hope we all do. Then, and only then, will the memories of the disaster, of those trying to rebuild, and those whose lives were lost, truly be honored, in they ways which they deserve to be.
Posted By Andie, NYC : 2:02 PM ET
After two years, what keeps us going every day is reminding ourselves that even tho our place is gone, we're still here.
Posted By Matine, Gautier, Miss : 2:03 PM ET
I live in that neighborhood. Thanks for never forgetting.
Posted By Steve O'Keefe : 2:08 PM ET
Why isn't Anderson posting on the 360blog about this?
Posted By Anonymous : 2:12 PM ET
I have said it before and I'll say it again, "Rebuild at your own risk and your own dime." Residents there should not look to the public or goverenment for help. Get a job somewhere else and live in a place where it's above sea level.

This is not a case of the flooding you see in the midwest that happens once every hundred years. Hurricanes are a seasonal event for the New Orleans area and residents should live there at there own health and financial risk.

Brian L. Durand, MI
Posted By Anonymous : 2:31 PM ET
Anderson, do you think New Orleans' fortunes will begin looking up with Mary Landrieu's almost sure defeat in upcoming election now that Kennedy has made the switch in Lousiana? Surely a State leader with his credentials will be good for the area.
Posted By Micki J.- Hot Springs, Arkansas : 2:39 PM ET
We're from N. O. and live in Waveland a block from the Gulf. It's still completely destroyed (dead trees even)with no one else on the street. The "official" reports don't give the full picture. So, thanks for getting off the beaten path and linking us into your updates about New Orleans.
Posted By Anonymous : 5:33 PM ET
I still wonder if those running NO don't want to rebuild these areas. The bureaucracy seems to hinder progress. It is always wonderful to see the stories of those who have survived the red tape and rebuilt successfully! Thanks to 360 and all of your support and hard work.
Posted By Kathy Chicago, Il : 5:38 PM ET
Don't blame the government, local or federal, for the still devastated neighborhoods. Blame the insurance industry. EVERY insurance entity refuses to insure a home in New Orleans. What is available through the state is so outrageously expensive that many who could afford to rebuild can't then afford to insure. Yet the insurers are collecting millions in auto insurance premiums on the cars that were bought to replace flooded vehicles.

Add to that the activists who fly into the city for a day, march around and give speeches, get people riled up, then fly away having left no solutions, only bigger problems. Take your rhetoric and SHOVE IT!

And now, the presidential candidates all have a "plan" for New Orleans. Like giving scholarships to nurses who commit to working in New Orleans. Terrific -- could we have the hospitals first for them to work in? We have ONE.

Progress is here. And we will survive. We won't be the same, and that's good. We'll be better.
Posted By Tara G -- New Orleans : 6:04 PM ET
Reply to Tara G-
Some people chose to live WITHOUT insurance or chose to live UNDERINSURED. That's not the govt's fault; that's not the insurance co.'s fault; that's the homeowner or renter who CHOOSES not to spend a little money to be covered.

I think that mainly when people from other parts of America read and see stuff about New Orleans, they see a mayor who gets up there in his $1000 suits and bling on, and says what he THINKS A POLITICIAN SHOULD SAY,; things such as "we really need to do this" and "we really need to do that". But anyone can say those tings, it's actually DOING them where the people you elected down there fall short. Because your elected officials fall short and arent' the best people for the job doesn't mean that taxpayers have to keep bailing out a city built on wetlands.
Posted By S Shalman, Lexington, Ky. : 10:10 AM ET
Where are all the millions going that have been sent? Why aren't they hiring New Orlean residents to rebuild as Bush promised instead of Illegals , americans were sent away .
Houston still has many katrina victims who need jobs why are they being returned to New Orleans and hired to Rebuld. Our crime rates have doubled. Please send them back, they need jobs, hire americans get ICE to deport illegals now.
Posted By maggieb : 11:21 AM ET
Anderson -
I am so glad you have encouraged CNN to establish a comment to the continued coverage of the struggles, that STILL remain to this day, of the survivors (not refugees) of Katrina. I was a member of the Oprah audience on Wednesday, Aug 29, 2007. All I can say is that I am still astounded. Why was I still ignorant of the disastrous conditions STILL left by Katrina? Without your efforts I would have remained ignorant of those, even after 2 years, that are living with constant fear (crime, lack of health care), depression (witness of death & destruction, abandonment, stress) & an economic calamity (lack of leadership, joblessness) affecting my fellow Americans.
I know that I am a just a natural disaster or a terrorist attack away from being in similar dire situations (as are all Americans). I promise to do my part to encourage other Americans to realize that there is a war is still being fought in the wake of Katrina. Thank you for steadfast efforts to bring the ugly to light.
Posted By Lisa - St. Joseph, MI : 2:20 PM ET
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