December 5th, 2007
02:51 PM ET
10 years ago

Brad Pitt: Rebuild New Orleans

Watch this clip from "Larry King Live"

(CNN) – Hollywood star Brad Pitt, who bought a home in New Orleans earlier this year to demonstrate his solidarity with the hurricane-ravaged city, has thrown himself into a major rebuilding project in one of its hardest-hit neighborhoods.

In an interview with CNN’s “Larry King Live,” the actor and architectural enthusiast discusses “Make It Right,” an adopt-a-house project that allows people to donate money to help build 150 environmentally friendly homes in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In this clip, Pitt calls on the 2008 presidential candidates to help the Lower Ninth Ward and other parts of New Orleans damaged by the historic storm.

“I hope this becomes, and is, one of the major issues in this campaign,” Pitt tells King. “I hope it’s used not so much as a whipping stick for the past administration but really used for a proving ground, an opportunity to address these issues of health care and education reform,”

New Orleans’s bid to host a 2008 presidential debate was recently rejected by the Commission on Presidential Debates – a move that was sharply criticized by White House contender John Edwards, who has made the sluggish pace of rebuilding in that city a centerpiece of his presidential bid.

Other Democratic candidates have also criticized the Bush administration for the city’s slow recovery pace.

Watch more of the interview Wednesday on "Larry King Live."

- CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart


Filed under: Katrina
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Peter M., New York, New York

    Brad Pitt – who is certainly a very well intentioned, kind man – is, in my opinion, a little misguided on this one. Rebuilding the lower 9th is not only a grave mistake it should be criminal. The reason the French Quarter is still there and remained relatively undamanged is because the early settlers knew something that we still know today but apparently no one cares about: You don't build a town (or portion thereof) in an area that is naturally below sea level and requires a dike to keep it dry UNLESS YOU HAVE TO (and we don't). I could not in good conscience give a dime to such reconstruction on-site and what Mr. Pitt should really be doing is seeking to have a new, dryer, safer neighborhood built somewhere else. Just because people are poor doesn't mean they should have to live in an unsafe area and NOTHING we can do will ever make it safe and there is plenty of land in the region that is perfectly safe.

    God bless him for caring.

    December 5, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Wayne, Greenville TX

    I saw Brad Pitt on "The Today Show" Monday morning, and he said he's pledged $5 million of his own money to rebuilding New Orleans. How refreshing to see a celebrity put his money where his mouth is.

    How much can we expect from GOP-leaning celebrities, such as Ahnold, Bruce Willis, and Particia Heaton???

    December 5, 2007 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. Angelina Julie Lexington Kentucky

    Brad Pitt's tax write off will do no good. While I admire his will, New Orleans is below sea level and the levee system there is not only dragging it lower, but it won't hold up. Save your money, Brad, and build in an area that won't flood or going into the ocean. Then replace flood victims to that location.

    December 5, 2007 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Nat, Wooster OH

    Go Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie! Those two are wonderful people who have done a great deal to help others in the states and abroad. Paris Hilton's family has more money than most millionaires but they don't use it to make the world a better place. Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie are truly National Treasures of the United States. I hope Mr. Pitt, Ms. Jolie and their family have a New Year filled with health, happiness, love and joy.

    December 5, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. AW!d Fargo North Dakota

    Brad's a good guy, but he still cheated on his wife with Angelina Jolie. Not that great of a guy, ha?

    December 5, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Not to be heartless...but when do people take responsibility for their own actions in your world?? The people in New Orleans live below sea level – and chose not to purchase a cheap flood insurance policy – now someone needs "to step in and protect them" – and we have those without insurance – Walmart, Starbucks, Staples and others provide health insurance – but those who chose not to get a job where health insurance is provided need to have someone "step in and protect them" – I don't understand the mother hen ideals you live under – we are adults – who are responsible for themselves...you want to make someones bad choices my tax liability – help me understand this....

    December 5, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. James, Honolulu, HI

    Why is this on the political ticker?

    December 5, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. J Houston, TX

    Brad Pitt – who is certainly a very well intentioned, kind man – is, in my opinion, a little misguided on this one. Rebuilding the lower 9th is not only a grave mistake it should be criminal. The reason the French Quarter is still there and remained relatively undamanged is because the early settlers knew something that we still know today but apparently no one cares about: You don't build a town (or portion thereof) in an area that is naturally below sea level and requires a dike to keep it dry UNLESS YOU HAVE TO (and we don't). I could not in good conscience give a dime to such reconstruction on-site and what Mr. Pitt should really be doing is seeking to have a new, dryer, safer neighborhood built somewhere else. Just because people are poor doesn't mean they should have to live in an unsafe area and NOTHING we can do will ever make it safe and there is plenty of land in the region that is perfectly safe.

    God bless him for caring.

    God I wish everyone understood the basic principles of engineering

    December 5, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. KEITH JAMES LOUTTIT

    Incredibly wonderful and as Mr Dobbs says, "Remarkable!" of Brad, et al doing this... But I don't understand why is it Bush's job to do this? Does anyone know what the Tenth Amendment is?

    Or any of them?

    Or can anyone over the age of twelve tell me what the country BudaPest is the capital of?

    December 5, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. AJ, IL

    I give Brad Pitt credit for trying to make a positive change.

    Posted by Peter M., New York, New York

    Hey Peter, you comment about people living in New Orleans or along the Gulf Coast is wrong. The Gulf Coast is home to millions of Americans. If I applied your analogy to Florida and say to the high probability of hurricanes that come through Florida let the people suffer. Or heaven forbid if a major earthquake struck in California and hundreds of thousands or millions of people became displaced, we as Americans just said "Ahh...forget about them. They shouldn't have been living along that fault line anyway". What a sad state of affairs when Americans don't care about helping other Americans, but will tout that they are helping the Iraqis.

    December 5, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Joshua, Biloxi

    For Wayne:

    Read this article. I think you make assumptions that just don't make much sense. How much have "left-leaning" celebs given thus far? I assume you know something about others besides Pitt, whose leanings I don't assume to know.

    http://www.philanthropy.com/free/articles/v19/i04/04001101.htm

    December 5, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Jenn Jo Lexington Kentucky

    To build on land that is actually below sea level is ridiculous, Mr. Pitt. As ridiculous as your relationship with Angelina Jolie.

    December 5, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Kevin Miner, Austin Texas

    Although I commend Mr. Pitt for his activism, his actions mark a sad chapter in American history where we depend on celebrities–not government–to rebuild our dilapidated cities. And while FEMA still has thousands of former homeowners and renters living in trailers, it seems that the insurance industry is content to let them stay there rather than provide coverage.

    As for Peter M's remarks, although he fancies himself quite the intellectual, he is well off-base when it comes to deciding to rebuild the lower ninth ward. That region of New Orleans has been ecologically safe for hundreds of years. It wasn't until engineers and developers started opening canals building houses on the Wetlands that Lake Ponchartrain came into existence. Had that lake not existed, those levies never would have burst in the first place.

    Look it up.

    December 5, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Arthur Houston

    When is Pitt or any politicians look at parts of New Orleans East and Lakeview ?????????????

    December 5, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. joseph, austin, tx

    I agree with Peter, NY,NY

    dont rebuild in that area, 05 wasnt the first time it flooded, when the last hurricane hit NOLA the 9th ward flooded, the next hurricane to hit NOLA the 9th ward will flood again. I have no solutions to offer, and I commend Brad Pitt for what he is doing, but it doesnt seem safe to move a high concentration of people back into a flood zone.

    December 5, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Gary, Detroit, Mich.

    How are the big corporate donations coming along? How much did Halliburton contribute?

    December 5, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  17. T. Tim, Lodi, WI

    Pitt for Prez!!!

    December 5, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Biden Backer/Seattle

    Just a really good guy who cares. But this will be overshadowed by mom of the year Britney running red lights and letting the papparazzi film her going commando when she hit Vegas to get wasted.

    December 5, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Jeanne Gamble, Spring, Texas

    What is the State of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans doing to help it's own. Why should the entire nation continue to help anymore than has already been done, and taken advatage of! I am so tired of people who bury themselves in a crusade like this, blame it on the big government, but don't hold the truest first responders, responsible!

    You wouldn't find any other city in any other state compaining, the way we continually hear about New Orleans. What about Mississippi? Who's helping those people? They are!

    Jeanne Gamble
    Texas

    December 5, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Wayne, Greenville TX

    To build on land that is actually below sea level is ridiculous, Mr. Pitt. As ridiculous as your relationship with Angelina Jolie.

    Posted By Jenn Jo Lexington Kentucky : December 5, 2007 4:34 pm

    Tell that to the Dutch. They seem to be doing very well with their system of polders and vast sections of their country below sea level.

    December 5, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  21. Pete M., New York, New York

    Hey AJ!

    I stand by my comment and I am not wrong about it – ask the people who built (that is founded) New Orleans. I am not speaking about the effect of hurricanes at all – though that is certainly something to consider as are the other points you speak of when rebuilding, or choosing not to rebuild.

    I am speaking about building in an area at the coast and naturally (in good weather) below sea level and below the level of a huge lake not many miles away and bounded by the Mississippi (did I spell that right?).

    I was not talking about relocating them to some other place far inland but on relocating them to higher ground THERE or even (if possible and economically feasible) raising the level of the ground there to AT LEAST sea level. We are NOT talking about the Netherlands where they have little choice. If there were no dike there a big storm in Missouri could flood the 9th ward.

    Again, I am not speaking of protection from hurricanes but about building in a place that requires that we engineer the basic enviroment so that people can build there a la the aforementioned Netherlands.

    No disrespect intended to you and pardon me if I was not clear the first time.

    Be well.

    Pete M.

    December 5, 2007 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  22. Dina O'Sullivan

    Go for it Brad. The government is not doing it. I am a native New Orleanian living in Mendocino California until May. I love that city and grew up in the ninth ward. My sister is still in a trailer and the other one just got back into her home six months ago and without any government help.I hope your celebrity helps peoplenotice what is gong on. And don't forget Mississippi. You are certainly to be commended for the work yo are doing. Dina O'Sullivan

    December 5, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  23. Aaron Smithsburg, Maryland

    Yes just rebuild, rebuild every thing! Why I ask you? These people are just as bad as the ones in the midwest that insist on rebuilding their houses every five years, because every five years a spring flood washes their lives downstream. Why am I liable for their idiocy as a taxpayer. My house isn't in a flood plain, or build on a swamp. You know why, because I like my stuff I don't want it to wash away. Tornadoes and hurricanes are one thing, but storm surge and or flood plains are another. There are random acts of nature; as well as, random acts of stupidity. New Orleans wouldn't be in the position they're in now if they would have listened to nature not the army corp of engineers. People move I've personally moved eighteen times in my life, out of necessity, not luxury. Rebuild the real coast, the mangroves forests, the bogs and swamps, and the grass wetlands, to protect the people that deserve it further inland.

    December 5, 2007 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  24. Pete M.

    Kevin,

    Sorry that you take issue with me and thank you for your brief history of the region but it only serves to support EXACTLY what I stated. Addressing the "why" was not my concern and is no longer relevant.

    I don't fancy myself an intellectual and if I make you feel threatened I can only feel sorry for you.

    Be well or, rather, get well.

    By the way, read A. E. Cowdrey's book, Land's End. Then tell me how wrong I am.

    Pete M.

    December 5, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  25. Dave, Laguna Niguel, California

    Nice to see that he is sending money towards a worthy cause, but, really sad that people are more concerned with who he's sleeping with this week, or where the latest addition to his own little united nations came from.

    December 5, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
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