Katrina One Year Later

On the devastated Gulf Coast, Katrina's horrors are far from over.

October 4, 2007


On August 29, 2005, the most damaging hurricane in American history came ashore just east of New Orleans and tore apart a region the size of Great Britain. Much has been written about the botched rescue efforts and the gradual rebuilding of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, the two states most affected by the storm. And as the news of the recovery receded to the back pages many Americans have concluded that the Gulf Coast is slowly reviving and things are returning to normal. It is not. Shaw McCutcheon


A drive north along the coast road from New Orleans to Biloxi reveals a wasteland of slabs and pillars that were once beautiful oceanfront homes. Virtually every home along this 80-mile stretch has been eliminated, and there is very little rebuilding going on. Though there are perhaps a half-dozen marinas and private yacht clubs along the road, modular units have replaced graceful clubhouses and the few clear slips that haven’t been damaged are full up. Shaw McCutcheon


We went to the affected area in late May to focus on the marine industry and how recreational boating was recovering. Instead, we came away astonished-at how completely lives had been changed, and at how little progress ahs been made. We were also struck by the attention focused on New Orleans, while some of the greatest havoc was wreaked in these suburban and rural areas. Shaw McCutcheon


Todd Estapa lost his grandparents and the inventory of his soon-to-be-opened marine business, but remains undeterred. “It was like a Holocaust scene. We had people head to toe in mud, speechless, motionless, just staring” -Todd Estapa Shaw McCutcheon


Out in Venice, however, where there are more boats than people, a small beacon of activity shone on June 1, the first day of the 2006 hurricane season. Mike and Bill Butler, owners of the Venice Marina, said that before the storm the marina had 70 houseboats as well as 52 slips that were mostly occupied. “All the houseboats got scattered like jacks,” says Mike. Power was restored in April, and with it running water; phone service is still spotty. With the restoration of power the marina could provide gas and ice, but food still had to be brought from New Orleans. Shaw McCutcheon


Blue Math 284,000 estimated number of Gulf Coast houses destroyed 40,000 estimated number of boats destroyed in Louisiana; no estimate forthcoming from Mississippi 200 boats Louisiana Fish & Game deployed one day after Katrina 5 degrees warmer than usual, water in Gulf as Katrina was forming 0 number of Coast Guard employees, military and civilian, who did not report for duty; over 260 suffered damage or destruction to their own homes Shaw McCutcheon

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