First Person: From Hurricane to Oil Spill
Catastrophe mars already difficult New Orleans milestone
I can hardly believe it has been five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. Those of us who lived in the storm's path have come a long way since the category-5 storm came ashore on August 29, 2005.
I remember packing to evacuate our home in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. My mom, dad, and I stayed glued to TV news reports, where we saw that my dad's work near the Superdome was badly damaged. We didn't know what had happened to our home.
After two months of waiting for the parish government to let us return, we found that our house had flooded and was covered in mold and mud.
My mom and I moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, to live with my grandparents. My dad was transferred to San Antonio, Texas, to work. After three years, my dad found another job and we were finally able to move back to Metairie.
The recovery process in New Orleans has been difficult, but the past year has brought changes and events that have helped restore my community's positive attitude and spirit. Our beloved New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl in February! This was like a miracle to us. We celebrated with one of the biggest and best Mardi Gras festivals on record.
The storm revealed inadequate leadership for recovery and change both locally and in the federal government. This year, the city elected a new mayor with promises of swifter, more positive action. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has promised to focus on rebuilding New Orleans to be better than ever before.
Unfortunately, that job has been made more difficult by yet another catastrophe: the British Petroleum oil spill. As the oil washes up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, coating birds and threatening sea life, the people in my community feel neglected and helpless yet again. But we will not be defeated.
New Orleans is great historical city with a unique culture. I love the people, the food, and the music. We are hard workers, but we always find the time for celebration. We know that even through moments of sadness and despair we need to make happy memories with our families and friends.
Despite this new threat that looms off our coastline, I am grateful to be where I am today. I am in the community I love, in a good school, and surrounded by a great group of friends. I also have faith that my community will stay strong and weather this disaster as well.
Kid Reporter Abi Lista and her dad toured some of the sites devastated during Hurricane Katrina and talked about why New Orleans is important to them. Watch the video here.
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Abigayle Lista is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.