Rebuilding New Orleans: Katrina five years later


  • Photo 1 of 8

    The Lot Next Door. Vacant lots are still a common sight in New Orleans where neighborhoods continue to crawl back to normal five years after being devastated by floods after hurricane Katrina.

    - Frank Relle

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    Neighborhoods rise from the floods slowly behind the repaired levees in New Orleans. It's been five years since hurricane Katrina and the city's population has climbed back to about 80 percent of pre-storm levels.

    - Frank Relle

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    A cool sprinkler on a hot day. Life is slowly getting back to to normal in the Ninth Ward and other New Orleans neighborhoods devastated by hurricane Katrina.

    - Frank Relle

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    While the recovery is showing solid progress, like gains in employment and commercial activity, challenges still remain, especially when it comes to housing. There's been a 49 percent increase in rents and there are 65,000 vacant residential units.

    - Frank Relle

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    A roadside billboard for the Demodiva is a sign of the times.

    - Eve Troeh/Marketplace

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    Demolition from a vacant building makes its way from a second story window into at DemoDiva dumpster.

    - Frank Relle

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    Properties for sale through the city's Lot Next Door program have their address painted in orange. The program helps neighbors purchase abandoned lots and homes for cheap.

    - Frank Relle

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    One homeowner in the lower Ninth Ward purchased the lot next door through the city's rebuilding program and turned it into a fenced yard.

    - Frank Relle

By Eve Troeh

NEW ORLEANS--Five years ago I was living here when Hurricane Katrina hit.

I evacuated ahead of the storm, and my house didn't flood. But I did come back to the city a few weeks after the levees broke to report on its recovery. A crashed city bus sat across from my front door for months. The word "HELP" in spray paint remained visible on a street around the corner for years after the storm.

Today I live in Los Angeles, but Marketplace sent me back to New Orleans to report on the Katrina recovery five years later. My assignment was to ask some of the "whatever happened to" questions, from blighted properties to new residents to missed opportunities for business recovery.

Lots of the big picture plans and ideas for rebuilding didn't work out, or never happened. What sprung up instead is a patchwork system fueled by the tremendous energy of residents and innovative policy solutions.

In my special report I explore where the city's been since the storm, and let you listen in on what I discovered as I roamed around the streets of New Orleans to find out where the city might be headed five years after Hurricane Katrina.

On Marketplace Money, meet the YURPs - Young Urban Rebuilding Professionals who showed up to help bring the city back and stayed.

Follow me on a multimedia tour with local photographer Frank Relle as we meet residents from three neighborhoods who are rebuilding the their communities through a program that helps them buy the empty lots next door in an effort to reclaim abandoned lots around the city. And hear more stories from my series.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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