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Saturday, 25 June 2011 00:10

On August 29, 2005 the most catastrophic natural disaster in our Nation’s history struck the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana causing billions of dollars in damage, over 2,000 deaths, and permanently


changing the lives of tens of thousands of good people.

The news media chose to highlight New Orleans primarily because of the large concentration of population that were tragically caught in floods caused by breaks in levees, failure of pumps, and tidal surges. These displaced thousands either did not have the means to evacuate or chose to remain in their homes—something they had done through so many previous storms.

There may be a debate as to whether the extent of damage and death would have occurred had these levees held strong and pumps continued to operate. The pictures in national media told the story of a slow national, state, and local response in the hours, days, and weeks following August 29.

The tragic stories are real, the photos and videos give an accurate picture of the areas affected; but for those residents of New Orleans and surrounding areas who traveled the city in the months following the storm, the devastation, although significant, was not universal. There were areas where flooding was not a factor and wind damage minimal. One such area was the French Quarter which was up and open for business within two weeks following the storm. Now, don’t be mistaken in assuming the Quarter was filled with tourists. Most people walking around the area were inhabitants, city and state police, National Guard troops, and curious sightseers.

The Armstrong International Airport was shut down for many weeks and downtown hotels sustained significant water damage due to window breakage and roof damage. Support service companies and thousands of employees were non-existent, making it impossible to expect a quick response to accommodate visitors.

But the city has made a comeback. Hotel rooms are 99% available, conventions are returning, thousands of visitors have returned to over 900 re-opened restaurants, and the number of flights coming into the airport are increasing daily. A good indication of this recovery occurred nearly two years ago when the New Orleans Saints hosted the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football. Visitors and locals packed the Superdome, a very important landmark representing the spirit of the population. Commentators and television viewers were amazed at the level of enthusiasm in just over a year following Katrina.

Festivals, including Mardis Gras, have returned and thousands are once again enjoying the culture of this amazing city. So if you are hesitant about travel and expecting flood-ravaged homes, know that, for visitors the doors are open.

As a final note: yes there are still thousands of homes still awaiting insurance and government aid in outlying areas; and many, many people are still unable to return to New Orleans. For these people, our hearts go out, but the pulse of this city is steady and strong. So check your travel itinerary and plan a trip to New Orleans that will prove to be as interesting and enjoyable as ever!


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 July 2011 16:31