Action News remembers Katrina aftermath 10 years later

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It was 10 years ago this weekend that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. It created one of the most catastrophic natural disasters the US has ever suffered. (WPVI)

It was 10 years ago this weekend that Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana. It created one of the most catastrophic natural disasters the US has ever suffered.

Katrina killed more than 1,800 people, caused an estimated $75 billion dollars in damage, and after several of the levees that were supposed to protect New Orleans Broke - nearly 80% of the city was flooded in up to fifteen feet of water.

Action News photographer Nick Morgan, producer John Morris, and I covered the aftermath of Katrina, and here's a look back at what we saw.

Everywhere we looked, we saw devastation, distress and desperation.

Our hearts broke as we witnessed 79-year-old Madison Graham refusing to leave his home for higher ground. He only had about 4 gallons of water left to drink.

"What I'm saying is, I don't know where I'll go," said Graham.

We remember Jonah Ringoe, who was saved from the top floor of a hospital parking garage.

But the people who touched me most are Tammy and Robert Miller.

They were staying at our same campground after leaving St. Bernard parish, which was inundated by floodwaters.

Almost every one of St. Bernard's 68,000 residents was left homeless - including the Millers.

"There's nothing left. You're not going to be able to get back into that parish. There's no way." said Tammy.

The Millers asked us to check on their home since we had access to the parish.

Our cameras captured how the monster storm had destroyed everything on the family's first floor.

And it seemed wherever we went, by air or on the ground, our Action News crew also captured anger - a lot of it.

"I didn't want to leave. I stayed in my apartment for two weeks because I thought they were going to help me. Not use scare tactics to get me out of there," said evacuee Candy McCarthy.

As we watched agents in Orleans parish go door to door, marking each house with the date and whether they'd found anyone or any bodies inside, we felt a measure of sadness and emptiness too.

Traveling in New Orleans at night was downright eerie - no light, no sound and no people.

In Washington parish, we met up with local soldiers from Willow Grove helping protect and restore the communities.

And amidst all the heartbreak and utter destruction, what struck us most was the resilience and spirit of the people we all met.

"They're our southern family. They're what makes America. We're here to help them, they'd be up there to help us," said /Lt. Col. Don Landis from Willow Grove JRB.

"We'll get it back together. It's going to take a while but we'll get it. We're still living," said evacuee Tammy Miller.

Covering that story and seeing that kind of devastation and the people whose lives were forever changed by it made for a powerful and moving experience.

I'm happy to report that today much of St. Bernard parish continues to recover.

At least one third of its population is back and 11 of the 15 schools have been rebuilt. The median household income has actually gone up.

And the federal government spent $46 billion dollars to improve the levees and other structures that are supposed to protect New Orleans.

The big question 10 years later is will the newly-built levees hold? There is still some debate about that.
Related Topics:
hurricane katrinau.s. & worldsevere weatherhurricanestorm damageLouisiana
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