Katrina, One Year Later

Katrina, One Year Later

by Lance Pitre

Today, August 29, 2006, is the one year anniversary of the day that Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana/Mississippi Gulf Coast. The effects of the hurricane are still felt in the entire Gulf Coast region. People are still without homes and jobs. Much of the New Orleans population has relocated to other areas of the country. For some, it is only a temporary relocation and for others, it appears it will be a permanent move.

The small city I live in has increased its population in the recent year. Our population went from about 100,000 to about 130,000. This has brought on problems for us. Not only is housing a problem but also the highways were not built to handle the higher volume of traffic. The local job market has been altered. Companies are hiring more people to be able to accommodate the increase in business, but the pool for employment is not there. It appears that the increase in population is not the working class people. Many businesses went through a phase of having to close early or open later than usual due to lack of workers to fill those shifts.

Many citizens are tired of dealing with insurance, government agencies, and contractors. It is not uncommon to hear stories on a daily basis of how someone was taken advantage of by a contractor or an insurance company. People are ready to buy new homes but the cost of insurance is now double or in some cases increased more than that. The insurance companies have paid out so many claims I suppose their only coarse of action now is to raise the premiums of their customers.

Also, my city was not only hit by Hurricane Katrina but a few weeks after Katrina struck, we had Hurricane Rita that applied more damage to our area. Hurricane Katrina hit to our west and hurricane Rita struck to our east. The New Orleans area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast area were spared damage from Hurricane Rita.

Photo from Lance one year ago
As you travel in and around New Orleans, you can still see evidence of a crippled major city. You can still see the blue tarps that cover the roofs of homes that were damaged. You can still see the markings on the front of the homes where rescuers marked with spray paint to notify other rescue teams that the house has been searched. The X enclosed in a circle meant the house was checked and one number in the X identified the rescue team and another number indicated if any bodies were found inside.

Many people received temporary housing from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) in the form of a small travel trailer. These travel trailers are parked in many front yards. Not only do you see them in New Orleans, but also in my area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Region.

In the Mississippi Gulf Coast Region, the picture is totally different. The water from the Gulf of Mexico came in so fast and left just as fast. The water left without any mercy on anything that it touched. Many of the homes and businesses were completely washed out to the Gulf leaving only a concrete foundation that the building once stood on. Some of the large casinos that once kept people entertained for hours were completely washed hundreds of feet away from its original location.

It truly is a sorry sight to see. It brought tears to our eyes seeing the damage. I could not help but wonder what these people of Mississippi had to go through. Not only did they experience this massive natural disaster but the recovery is a battle of its own. I know the battle I endured just to make a claim with flood insurance on my home. I can imagine dealing with flood and homeowners. What percentage of wind damage and what percentage of water damage. Once the insurance claim is made, an adjuster has to see what they will pay. Then the cheque comes later. The whole process took me a matter of four months. In fact, I had to make a complaint with the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner to get serviced properly.

Today, one year later, people are still fighting claims and the government. The small FEMA trailers are a common sight all around neighbourhoods and on the side of main highways. The government has set up temporary trailer parks with the small travel trailers for people to live in until their home is “liveable.” This area is nowhere near being known as “back to normal.”

Hurricane Katrina is now known as the worse natural disaster in the history of the United States of America.

Lance Pitre

August 29, 2006

Houma Louisiana USA