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. Terry from El Paso, TX

    I live in a safe place. No hurricanes, no flooding, no earthquakes, no tornadoes. A few sandstorms may blow off a few shingles every now and then. We are running out of drinking water, but so is Atlanta and every other big city in America, except for those around the Great Lakes.

    All of you folks who live near rivers are going to be flooded. All of you who live on the coast are going to be driven back by rising water as the earth warms.All of you on the west coast will suffer THE BIG ONE someday. And all of you – Conservatives and Liberals – will want Uncle Sam there to give you bottled water, debit cards, and construction loans.

    It is crazy to rebuild New Orleans in the same sinkhole. It is crazy to allow so much building so close to the coast. It is crazy not to have a national plan for construction of housing and highways, distribution of utilities, and emergency planning.

    On the other hand, we could just say that its every man, woman, and child for himself or herself, and devil take the hindmost.

    February 15, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  2. Steve

    Can someone tell me why it is my responsibility to pay for the reconstruction of New Orleans?

    February 15, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Where did my comment go?

    This is an American disgrace. It's sad that in 2008 we are still so divided in this country based on skin color. A rural town here in Kansas that was wiped out last year by a tornado is back up and running again due to state and federal support. And you mean to tell me that a booming area like New Orleans can not get any help years later?

    February 15, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Mary-Lawrence, KS

    Big promises are being made on the campaign trail..... I really hope the next President delivers some real help for all of the communities that suffered and are still suffering.

    The American spirit shines brightest when we volunteer to help others.

    February 15, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  5. mountain man

    I was down there a week ago and it is shocking how little has been done.

    February 15, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. Lilarose in Oregon

    I am going to New Orleans for ten days in March to attend the Audubon Pilgrimage. While there I hope to see alot of the Katrina damaged areas–safely–because I want to get up front and personal with this tragedy and to form my own opinion about what transpired.

    As I have prepared for this first ever trip, I contacted the New Orleans and the Louisiana tourist bureaus. I was mailed a large amount of materials to find some activities to enjoy while there, and to spend tourist money that will help the local economy in some small way.

    Please go online to see what is happening in the New Orleans area, and statewide in all of Louisiana. The brochures were beautiful! Professional! And there are tons of things to do, from swamp and Mississippi river tours to visiting the garden district, to cavorting in the French Quarter. New Orleans welcomes tourists, and I can't wait to be one!

    February 15, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  7. Lee Troutman

    Way to go Wolf,
    You just interviewed Magic Johnson about his support of Clinton but spent the great majority of the interview asking about Obama. Stick to the story instead of supporting a candidate through directed question and response. Every idiot knows how to get the information to read the way they want it to: your job is to interview on the topic you advertise rather than campaign for a particular candidate.

    February 15, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  8. Steven

    Someone needs to take care of the Gulf Coast. For all of us who do not live there, we must try hard to empathize with not having your home back for years. I wish I could do more.
    On another note, did anyone notice that there is a racial divide between Obama and Clinton in many states- including Louisiana? Why is the coverage denying it? Look at the numbers and explain to me how Obama has superceded race. Then explain to me how pointing this out is inherently racist. (as is the usual charge) If I say that women generally make less money than men, it's not an endorsement of the idea, but it's true.

    February 15, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. Pantsuit Lady

    This situation here is just another reason why Americans want CHANGE in government, and that doesn't mean the Clintons either. It's just terribly sad what happened during the events of Hurricane Katrina, but our government has willingly allowed the situation to morph into Hurricane Katrina II.

    February 15, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Charlotte

    Wolf, New Orleans will soon get all the help they need if Obama is the next President. We won't have to worry anymore about anything, life will be all milk and honey, all our troops will be home, jobs for everyone, health insurance for those that can afford it, the will of the people will be all that matters,no more lobbist in Washington, just ask any Obama-bot.

    February 15, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. David Jones

    Wolf, please focus on highlighting the horrors of Louisiana during the era of this administration rather than interviewing Charles Barkley, the knuckle-head. He does not represent Obama campaign in anyway and neither does he speak for anyone, white or black in politics.

    February 15, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  12. Ann


    February 15, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Move New Orleans to Iraq and maybe our government will rebuild it because it sure isn't being treated like part of the U.S. thanks to the Bush adm.

    February 15, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  14. Tom Sherman

    Here,Here to charles barkley I agree with him 100% what ever happened to Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Govt. by the PEOPLE, of the PEOPLE and FOR THE PEOPLE!!! not the top 1%

    February 15, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  15. ben

    If I ruled the world, I would make Lou Dobbs president, Jack Cafferty vice president, and Wolf Blitzer secretary of state.

    February 15, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  16. Tim T.

    New Orleans, Katrina: Great job FEMA and Brownie. Who needs or wants 4 or more years of Rebublican adminstrations like this? Don't people get it yet?

    February 15, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. mike

    I don't feel that bad for these people. Honestly, its not the U.S Government's fault that people built a city under sea level and then complain that it got flooded.

    Give me a break.

    February 15, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  18. Doc Jerome

    Why hasn't anyone been charged with something? From the President on down, for dereliction of duty to the the offices they hold and gross negligence of duty to the country in time of emergency. Does anyone have the courage to do this?

    New Orleans is now ripe with corruption, with opportunists making land grabs and developers snatching up as much taxpayer money as they can possibly get away with. They are all complicit in this genuine American tragedy.

    February 15, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  19. Obamanised Latino

    What Debate? Hillary, you are out of your "This Presidency is mine" mind. 18 times Hillary, 18 , that is the amount of time you have debated already . Read my lips ; no debate in Wiconsin. Wouldn't do you any good anyway, I heard the people there are pretty bright. Obamaaaaaaaaaaa 08.

    February 15, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. Charlotte

    The Lord helps those who help themselves. Why aren't these homeless people working to clean up their town, rather then wating for the next handout. All those people with brooms and shovels could clean it up in no time. At least get the trash off the ground.

    February 15, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  21. Earl, Chicago

    Charge the President?

    This disaster showed the incompetence of State and Local leaders, and the stupidity of building a city below sea level.

    February 15, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  22. Alice

    Larry B: I guess you think the Marshall Plan in post war Germany was wrong too? You line of thinking was tried after WW1....and we know what happened a generation later in Germany.

    As for McCain, I think he probably knows all too well about the horrors of war....do you?

    February 15, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. Jack from California

    Why won't Obama debate Hillary? Is he hiding something? Where are the details of his proposals?

    I heard the interview with Charles Barkley and it sure sounds like he wants Obama to be President for the Black Community. What is Obama going to do for the other 80% of the population?

    What does Obama propose to do for the Gulg Coast, Social Security, Health Care, jobs (besides using Hillary suggestion of green jobs) – OBAMA -WHERE"S THE BEEF?

    February 15, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  24. Gobama

    Unlike the more 'humble' vets with more integrity, Insane McCain is trying to run on his POW status. For shame!

    We may forgive McCain because he may be a bit senile; but Senator McCain needs to know that patriotism IS NOT only service in the armed forces. Not all Americans who serve their country well can be in the armed forces!

    Those individuals who VOLUNTARILY sought to improve their communities as Community Organizers, rather than cashing out their Columbia/Harvard education, ARE ALSO doing patriotic service to improve America.

    Barack Obama is as much an American Patriot for his public service as John McCain is.
    So this grandstanding and warmongering only gets America Iraq, waste of young lives, limbs and mental health, and the EMPTYING of the Nation's Treasury.

    The only reason Americans will vote for the vision-less and Insane McCain come November would be that Americans have been dumbed down to a state of lowered expectation and lowered self-esteem by the present clueless Administration.

    February 15, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  25. Adam

    As a resident of New Orleans, it makes me so sad to see people call New Orleanians "lazy" and that we are "looking for a handout."
    It makes me sick to see people with so much hate and ignorance about how much we and volunteers have done to help rebuild the city.
    Clearly, they have no idea how much we have done, and still intend to do.

    February 15, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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