Home > Uncategorized > What are the Barriers to Reconstruction that the People of New Orleans Face?

What are the Barriers to Reconstruction that the People of New Orleans Face?

When the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in the newly constructed stadium, the streets were filled with people celebrating the triumph. The victory gave the residents of New Orleans something to cheer for, perhaps a sign that New Orleans had risen from the ashes of Katrina. However, these celebrations were superficial. The day after the Super Bowl, the destruction was still there. People were still picking up the pieces of their lives, regardless of who had won a football game. 

The film, “When the Levees Broke,” interviews a wide variety of people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the challenges that they still face. From the mayor of the city to residents that have been ousted from their homes, the film provided a wide array of perspectives to the crisis. The most important question that I found was: What are the barriers to reconstruction that the people of New Orleans face?

Katrina destroyed over 275,000 homes in Louisiana, leaving countless refugees. These people had to scatter across the United States, forced to form new lives outside of their communities. People who wanted to return did not find the communities that once gave them support. Businesses had all closed down because there were no people, but the people could not come back because all of the businesses and services were gone. The people who wanted to come back and rebuild their homes had nowhere to stay while they tried to rebuild their lives, making the reconstruction effort much harder than it should have been. People would have to drive from Houston to New Orleans to work for a few hours salvaging what was left of their homes, and they would have to turn around and make the long, arduous trip back to Houston because they had no place to stay. In the absence of substantial government assistance, celebrities like Brad Pitt provided funding for housing projects. In the Film, Brad Pitt walked around a neighborhood of “green” houses in the 9th ward that his organization helped rebuild. The houses were storm resistant and had solar panels, and were sold to the previous homeowners for around $150,000. From what was seen, this appeared to be a successful project that gave 150 sustainable homes back to residents in New Orleans. However, this is a very small part of the population that, at the time, had no help and no way to rebuild.

The magnitude of the disaster caught the government and other institutions off guard. Relief stations that were set up were overwhelmed and inadequate for the huge numbers of people coming in. The lack of structure in New Orleans provided a breeding ground for crime. Whole communities were gone with no means of returning. Lack of insurance exacerbated social inequalities and cost of reconstruction.

This film hints to the need for government and institutional reform in terms of disaster relief and preparedness for environmental impacts, which are expected to increase in the future.

 

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