Trying to Make It Home: New Orleans One Year After Katrina

Bernice Mosely is 82 and lives alone in New Orleans in a shotgun double. On August 29, 2005, as Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the levees constructed by the US Corps of Engineers failed in five places and New Orleans filled with water.\r\n\r\n One year ago, Ms. Mosely was on the second floor of her neighborhood church. Days later, she was helicoptered out. She was so dehydrated she spent eight days in a hospital. Her next door neighbor, 89 years old, stayed behind to care for his dog. He drowned in the eight feet of floodwaters that covered their neighborhood.\r\n\r\n Ms. Mosely now lives in her half-gutted house. She has no stove, no refrigerator, and no air-conditioning. The bottom half of her walls have been stripped of sheetrock and are bare wooden slats from the floor halfway up the wall. Her food is stored in a styrofoam cooler. Two small fans push the hot air around.\r\n\r\n Two plaster Madonnas are in her tiny well-kept front yard. On a blazing hot summer day, Ms. Mosely used her crutches to gingerly come down off her porch to open the padlock on her fence. She has had hip and knee replacement surgery. Ms. Mosely worked in a New Orleans factory for over thirty years sewing uniforms. When she retired, she was making less than $4 an hour. \"Retirement benefits?\" she laughs. She lives off Social Security. Her house had never flooded before. Because of her tight budget, Ms. Mosely did not have flood insurance.\r\n\r\n Thousands of people like Ms. Mosely are back in their houses on the Gulf Coast. They are living in houses that most people would consider, at best, still under construction, or, at worst, uninhabitable. Like Ms. Mosely, they are trying to make their damaged houses into homes.\r\n

Citation

Leo Gorman, “Trying to Make It Home: New Orleans One Year After Katrina,” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed September 19, 2019, http://hurricanearchive.org/items/show/33658.