Hurricane Katrina In New Orleans

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Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29th, 2005. This hurricane displaced virtually the entire population of the city as a result of massive flooding caused by the levees breaking and Lake Pontchartrain emptying its waters into 80% of the city. Soon after the tragedy, statistical observers began predicting who would make a return to the Crescent City. The most widely accepted predictions were that New Orleans would become both wealthier and whiter as a result of “selective migration” (Fussell, Sastry, and Vanlandingham 1). Their predictions were correct. Black residents returned to the city at a much slower rate than white residents did, and that is without even taking the socioeconomic variables into account. The racial disparities were caused mostly because the areas that experienced greater flooding and more damage were areas like the Lower Ninth Ward, an area notorious for its African American lower class population. Did this happen by coincidence? Or were these areas’ homes poorly constructed as a result of socioeconomic factors? Only 30 percent of the low-income neighborhoods’ residents have returned in contrast with the rest of the city, which has had almost a 90 percent return rate (Al Jazeera). Why is that? What happened after Katrina that caused so many people to leave the “Big Easy” forever? In this paper, I will analyze how natural disasters, specifically Hurricane Katrina, affect various races and neighborhoods (according to income) in urban areas, specifically New Orleans. We will begin by observing the various patterns that emerge in post disaster reconstruction in order to understand what truly happened after the storm. Next, we will discuss specifically the reconstruction plans for New Orleans after Katr... ... middle of paper ... ...e governments discriminated against poor African Americans residents, but it is only natural that after receiving little aid and having no place to go, those citizens would not return to the Crescent City. The immense displacement caused by the most expensive natural disaster in United States history proved that the City of New Orleans, and the United States as a whole, was not prepared for a natural disaster of that magnitude. It also showed the challenges urban planners face in times of crisis and the weaknesses they need to overcome in order to avoid another decade of reconstruction efforts after tragedy strikes. Despite the fact that nine years post-Katrina many people have still not returned to the city, New Orleans, with every flaw it has, is still an encouraging example proving that with enough effort, battered places can rebuild and begin to prosper again.

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