New Orleans, United States – August 28 marks nine years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the United States. As one of the most deadly storms recorded in US history, more than 1,800 people died in the storm and the subsequent flooding.
The hurricane devasted New Orleans, the largest city in the state of Louisiana. Although many neighbourhoods in New Orleans bounced back after Hurricane Katrina, others, like the Lower 9th, continue to show signs of neglect.
Many homes remain abandoned. The mostly poor, black neighbourhoods lack grocery stores, drug stores and banks. Only a fraction of the former residents have returned, and there seems little will to rebuild what was once vibrant communities.
The Lower 9th Village community centre opened its doors to residents in need two years after Hurricane Katrina. But the centre and operator, Ward “Mack” McLendon, who relies on donations to keep the facility open, faces forclosure. Sponsors’ promises to help pay off the building and make it operational fell through.
The community centre’s plight symbolises the neighbourhood’s lingering problems. However, the residents remain resilient, and the community has initiated revitalisation projects.
Just a few blocks from the Lower 9th Village community centre, the government has begun building another multi-million dollar community centre.
On that same street, a new structure lays on top of the destroyed Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church.
While raising funds and gathering proper support proves difficult, Reverend Charles Duplessis says the migration of return has slowly started. “How do you build a community again? By giving them hope and by somebody standing up and saying we can do this if we come together. And I see that in the Lower 9th Ward.”