On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, beginning a cycle of disaster that still affects the city today. Just after the storm hit, MTV News' SuChin Pak headed down to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to talk to refugees who were forced to leave New Orleans and volunteers looking to help out. These are her recollections five years hence.
I have not been back to the Gulf Coast since our last time down there. We went back a year after the hurricane to see how things had changed, and the thing that sticks in my memory the most is how little things had changed and in ways how much worse it was. Houses that had been filled with water were now drained but sitting for a year, untouched in the hot Louisiana sun. You can imagine the state of the houses and the kinds of smells that you encountered when walking through the empty streets. It kind of felt like a post-apocalyptic movie where you usually see the zombie creature as you turn the corner.
During our time there, it was the silence that was most deafening. You didn't hear one hammer, one construction truck, one sound that would indicate that rebuilding would come soon. We traveled with a group of high school and college students that were doing the work of retrieving belongings and trying to make a dent in the damage. They were the only group we encountered there ̵ no government agencies, no construction companies, just a small group of students volunteering to try to bring this neighborhood back on its feet. I left mostly feeling angry and confused.
Today, with the oil spill and the economy still in turmoil, I wonder how that neighborhood looks and if indeed, they were able to get back some of what they lost. I certainly hope so.