February 15th, 2008
03:12 PM ET
13 years ago

Blitzer: New Orleans still struggles

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/02/15/art.neworleans.getty.jpg caption="In New Orleans, the Ninth Ward struggles two years after Hurricane Katrina."] NEW ORLEANS (CNN) - The Lower Ninth Ward here in New Orleans is so depressing. I spent part of the day driving around the miles and miles of destruction. Whole blocks are just empty lots. Where homes once stood, there are now only concrete slabs left. You see an occasional trailer where a family has tried to re-establish their lives. Some of the residents are trying to rebuild their actual homes. But it’s extremely difficult.

My guide was Peter Kovacs, the managing editor of The Times-Picayune, the newspaper that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of Katrina. He’s been through this area so many times. He knows the empty lots and the missing people who have been forced to resettle elsewhere around the country. He’s not upbeat about the Lower Ninth Ward ever being what it was. What a sad story.

In the course of the tour, we came upon Charmyne Fluker. She was visiting there with her elderly mother who had lived in a home in the neighborhood for years – only to see it wiped away by the storm. They were forced to move to North Carolina. This was the first time her mother had come back to see the devastation and to understand why there was no real opportunity of actually coming home. Charmyne told me her mom had to see the area with her own eyes in order to reach finality.

There is so much that needs to be done. What is encouraging, Kovacs told me, is that about a million people from all over the country have come to New Orleans since Katrina to volunteer some of their time to help rebuild. Some spend a day; others weeks.

This weekend, the NBA is having its All-Star Game here. NBA officials, players, coaches, and fans are doing their part – painting, cleaning and building. But they are also doing their part by simply being here.

–CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer

Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Delilah


    I'm not denying that New Orleans is having a hard time recovering, but so is the Mississippi gulf coast. I travel to Biloxi frequently for VA appointments. There are still people there living in FEMA trailers, there are miles of empty lots that were once filled with businesses and homes. While I realize that NOLA was hit hard and do not in any way minimalize the damage that city suffered, please don't forget the other victims of Katrina that are still recovering too.

    February 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Dave Ayers

    Its a shame Wolf! And to think Obama is willing to leave 15 millions Americans without Health Coverage. Who do you think they might be, yes. the African American Community, Hispanics. So as these People struggle every day with the hardships caused by Katrina, Obama tosses another "Wave" in their faces! Shameful!

    February 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Bayou Joe

    Shame for our government for not taking care of these poor people.
    But don't worry help is coming. Obama will take care of this oversight.
    Yeah, in your dreams. I grew up with hurricanes and after every hurricane we rebuilt our own homes without the government or millions of people descending on my hometown. It's called self-reliance folks. Get off your derrier and do the work, it's good for the soul.

    February 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Joyce memphis, tn

    This is soo sad. I was living in Houston when the storm hit and spent alot of hours volenteering at the Astrodome where the storm victims resided. This whole incident made me loose faith in our current government. We are spending billions of dollars a day in Iraq while we still have displaced citizens right here in AMERICA!!! Our soldiers did their job in Iraq...they caught, tried, convicted, and executed Hussein. Now its time to bring ours resources (and troops) home and take care of America. To all those who are straddling the fence on whether to vote Dem or Rep, remember those who were left stranded for days in New Orleans, remember those who lost their homes, and remember those who might not see their home town restored because of the failed Bust Administration.

    February 15, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Judith Sedtal

    Keep giving us news of New Orleans. My family lost everything. I live in Virginia but I love New Orleans and haven't had the nerve to go back.

    February 15, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. bp

    This plight is evidence of a third world country.

    February 15, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Barack Oprah

    What have you done for New Orleans so far, Obama?
    They still have difficult life. What have you changed for them so far?
    We can pray by ourselves. Do something.

    February 15, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Gem

    Maybe all the Obama people going to his rallies should go instead to New Orleans and do something about it ! Rhetorics and inspirational speeches should translated into action now .

    February 15, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. Charlotte

    Why don't all those lazy people in New Orleans get busy and clean up the mess? They just stand around looking for a hand out.

    February 15, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. Shame on the government

    If the candidates really wanted to impress the voters of America they should have put up a big tent in the ninth ward and held a National Debate there. Imagine how much attention and support the area would have received? Just a thought!

    February 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. JERRY


    February 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Donna Carroll

    I would like to make a comment about the interview Wolf just had with the black gentlemen (first name Charles) who says he is for gay marriages and the christians need to read the Bible. I say two things – he needs to read what God says about homosexuality. And the comments he made about wanting a black president – he is voting race and race only.

    February 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Larry B

    Hundreds of millions of US Dollars are sent to Iraq for rebuilding roads. schools, water and sewer systems, fire departments, police departments, hospitals, and all sorts of other infrastructure - with upwards of 20% + of such funds still unaccountd for and likely stolen by the greed and lack of US oversight --and all the while we ship millions to Iraq, just a measly trickle to New Orleans which remains in ruins three years after Katrina. Why isn't Obama talking about this? Why isn't McCain talking about this? The only way Obama looks towards New Orleans is if there is campaign contributions or more delegates - and he has already gotten what he wants from New Orleans..... so he is moving on and readying for change (as in a direction away from New Orleans). The only way McCain looks to New Orleans is if there is a war going on he can wage as the new Wartime President wanna-be. McCain's likley response on New Orleans' plight – "we will continue to fight aganst this evil situation - even if it takes us 100 years". Obama's outlook on New Orleans - I have a dream - that all of this will just go away before I have to think about it any longer.... US Voters - be very careful what you wish and vote for -- you may get it -and you may not like it. If either McCain or Obama get elected President, the national refrain by August will be "Bring back George Bush" McCain = "WAR" Obama = "Over one's head"

    February 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Tamara

    I know everyone know the story "The Little Engine That Could". For the last two years, New Orleans have been that little engine.

    I remember watching the devestation on tv. I didn't realize that "hopelessness" exist in American. I cried when I saw bodies rotting on the side of the road, and being overwhelmed seeing the suffering before my eyes.

    In a way, I understand why the turn out during the Louisiana primaries were low in New Orleans. I believe the good citizens there DO NOT have faith in the government. I would feel the way, if I felt my government had abandon me in a time when I needed them the most.

    And finally, I am glad the city of New Orleans is bouncing back. And I'm especially glad the NBA All star game is being held down there too....KUDOS to the NBA...

    Great blog, Wolf...

    February 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Dear Wolf,

    It might be worth noting that the infamous ninth ward was a huge swath of crime, neglect, and indolence. There was a murder there about two or three times per month. When I hear that the ninth ward may never be what it was, I have to wonder if that's at all lamentable.

    New Orleans

    February 15, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. CHERYL



    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  17. william fuleihan

    the arguments of both sides on the fla and mi delegates make a lot of sense. don't you think it's best to have a law suit filed after the pa primaries by both sides against the leadership of the dnc and have it decided in the supreme court prior to the august convention ?? let the supremes decide what to do this way no one can complain afterwards. it's the highest court of the land and republicans are not involved. this is a time bomb that needs to be difused prior to august and especially prior to the november general election.

    February 15, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Kerry in Fort Worth, Texas

    It's depressing in so many ways that a natural devistation has now turned into a governmental failure. Promises made and broken by the Executive Branch, State and Local ineptitude, and aid agencies being 'hand-cuffed' have led to the piling on of nature and policy to the long suffering people of Louisiana and Mississippi.

    February 15, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. kevin from alaska

    You forgot to mention the trailers FEMA provided for relief victims were full of toxic poisons.

    February 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. LJ

    Louisanna is a living proof of corruption in USA. All the figer points and blames.... Any one see the plan, action and audit the money spent? Before any tax money going into New Orleans and I think the tax payers has the right as stock holder to review the re-structure plan.

    February 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. Mike, Houston, TX

    The only thing that has come back to New Orleans' is its homicide rate. The city should be gutted.

    February 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. Janet

    This is truly an American disgrace and to think it all has to do with the race of the affected Americans

    February 15, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Reality

    I understand that the devastation in New Orleans was and is horrific and that it's depressing, but enough already. There are natural disasters all over the world which destroy more lives and more homes without warning. The difference is that in this country a lot of people want to blame someone for their misfortune and refuse to do anything to better themselves. Do you hear about people in Florida complaining after a hurricane hits? Not really. They clean-up and get on with their lives. They choose to live where they do and are proud of that. California was ravaged by fires in October 2007 – three years after another raging fire scorched their land. Oh, and no one talks about Hurricane Rita and Gavelston, Texas. So what gives about Katrina?

    February 15, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Outsider

    Let Obama take care of his folks

    February 15, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. Freedom Seeker

    It's too bad that the people of New Orleans are still suffering. If we had a president who truely cared about people maybe things would be different. With all the money either stolen or wasted in Iraq, all of the homes and businesses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina could have been rebuilt with money left over to help the poor in other areas of the United States. It is truely time for a change.

    February 15, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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