Iconic images from Katrina revisited for Isaac
Hurricane Isaac made landfall Tuesday on the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina that devastated the same area of the northern Gulf Coast. From the Superdome to the Lower 9th Ward, The Associated Press visited these same spots that became symbols of the devastation from Katrina to see how they look in the wake of Isaac.
17TH STREET CANAL
When Katrina hit, it was a Category 3 hurricane, which can do plenty of damage on its own. But when the levees built to protect New Orleans failed, water poured in and submerged the city. Since then, the federal government poured $14 billion of repairs and improvements and the Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that the flood protection system was holding up so far as Hurricane Isaac storms blew through the area. A pumping station at the 17th Street canal in New Orleans — which was built at the site of a levee that breached during Hurricane Katrina — briefly went down early Wednesday, but operators were able to manually get it working again.
On a New Orleans street corner, neighbors buried the body of 65-year-old Vera Smith in a crude grave with dirt they got from a nearby park. Smith had been dead for days, killed by a car. Her body was left to decompose in the sun, along with other bloated corpses during the days after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005. Thousands were stranded without relief and Smith's body left on the corner without anyone seeming to care became of a symbol of the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe after the storm. On Wednesday, the shrine was still up.
The Louisiana Superdome was set up to be the "shelter of last resort" for those who couldn't make it out of the city when Hurricane Katrina struck. Officials and relief workers badly underestimated just how many people would be stranded when the levees broke in the city and thousands flocked to the Dome seeking refuge. The Dome flooded and with no power and no water, sanitary conditions quickly deteriorated. The inside became putrid and the scene of hungry, dirty, exhausted refugees in a trashed Superdome was one of the most recognized images of the storm. On Wednesday, the streets were deserted as residents took cover from Isaac. A couple of National Guard vehicles and tow trucks sat idled on one of the nearby ramps, ready to be put to work if needed, but there was no need to open it up to residents.
LOWER 9th WARD
The Lower 9th Ward was all but wiped out and its ruined, boarded up homes are a lasting image from the storm. Some of the people driven out by the floods never returned. But others who call the Lower 9th their home rebuilt, including Melba Leggett-Barnes. Hard wind and heavy rain pelted her home but she was feeling very differently than she did seven years ago when she was forced to flee Katrina's rising water. Barnes. "I have a hurricane house this time," said Barnes, who has been living in new home since 2008. She and her husband, Baxter Barnes, were among the first to get a home through Brad Pitt's Make It Right program.