Katrina Anniversary Approaching, Not Much has Changed

By Jorge Rivas Aug 18, 2009

This coming Sunday, August 23rd, will mark the fourth year anniversary that Hurricane Katrina formed over the Bahamas. We’re likely to hear uplifting stories about how far New Orleans has come in the coming weeks, but the reality is that the storm never ended for a lot of folks in New Orleans. In "They Can’t Go Home Again," Tram Nguyen writes:

Four years after Katrina, the city of New Orleans can still break your heart. Not with the raw suffering of the hurricane and its aftermath, but with the stark exposure of an economic apartheid that keeps poor people of color locked out of the city’s political process, as well as its prospects for restored housing and renewed economic growth.

Bill Quigley, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and Davida Finger, lawyer and clinical professor at Loyola University New Orleans have created the "Katrina Pain Index- 2009." The index provides a list of troubling statistics that will shock you with disbelief of how little Louisiana has progressed in the last four years. The full index is available online, but here are some highlights: 0. Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant – compared to 116,708 homeowners. 0. Number of hospitals in New Orleans providing in-patient mental health care as of September 2009 despite post-Katrina increases in suicides and mental health problems. 2. Number of Katrina cottages completed in Louisiana as of beginning of 2009 hurricane season under $74 million dollar federal program. 50. Ranking of Louisiana among states for overall healthcare. 52. Percent increase in rents in New Orleans since Katrina. 88: Percent of the 600 New Orleans residents who will displaced by proposed new hospital complex who are minorities. 160. Number of units which will be public housing eligible in the new St. Bernard area after demolition and rebuilding. St. Bernard was constructed with 1400 public housing apartments. Only a small percentage of the 4000 families in public housing in New Orleans before Katrina will be allowed to live in the new housing being constructed on the site where their apartments were demolished. 27,279. Number of Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal assistance in repair and rebuilding after Katrina who have been determined eligible for assistance but who have still not received any money. 9.5 Million. Dollar amount of federal Medicaid stimulus rejected outright by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal which would have expanded temporary Medicaid coverage for families who leave welfare and get a job. ?. Current vulnerability to storm-related flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers continues work to provide protection from a storm surge that has a 1 percent chance of occurring any given year. However, Katrina was a stronger storm than the system under construction is designed to protect against. Because no updated indicators exist on land loss, coastal restoration and mitigation of flood risk due to human engineering, tracking recovery is, at best, challenging.