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. Zavat

    Good! I will no longer donate to the Red Cross for all those Katrina victims. They turned their back on the Clintons, so I guess now I can turn my back on New Orleans as well.

    They elected the same black mayor that only seems to blame the white man for his own mistakes, and since you at CNN love God Obama so much, perhaps he can bring his speeches back to New Orleans for a fundraiser–

    In my personal view, the majority of black politicians are corrupted anyway, to say the least.

    February 15, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  2. Ric

    So if Obama becomes president, when do we start paying reparations?

    February 15, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  3. Myrna

    Shame On those Idots from Texas for saying that about New Orleans.. New Orleans is slowly being rebuilt a litle bit at a time, and I am Sure Obama Once he gets to Be President will step up to the Plate and do More.. To the Idiot from Texas who said Hillary would Help or do something for these folks??? Hillary Has NOT been there or has she ever been seen in blue jeans lifting a finger to do anything !Louisana Voted for Obama, ,and that should count for something ! New Orleans Will be a LOT nicer once it gets rebuilt.. Which is More than I can say for Texas.. !!!!

    February 15, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. Go Hillary!!!!!

    i agree with you Jerry.... something is not right.....it seems to me most black people wants Obama to be the president so they can get help first from Obama if he become the president... , that`s stinks..

    February 15, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  5. Kris In Atlanta

    I am so glad CNN made the effort to shed some light on this tragedy. Any uncaring and thoughtless person can put any spin to this situation they choose and many have done just that-racial, economic, social. But the fact is these people are Americans, and they are our people. Every effort should be made to do everything possible to help these people, none of whom asked to be made destitute and homeless.

    We all saw the images and heard the stories. Dead bodies on Bourbon stret, indifferent and even hostile public officials. Murder. Mayhem.Throwing money at a problem will not completely solve it. Though the money is certainly helpful, when in realistic amounts, there are other needs that these traumatized people have and America cannot sit back and just watch. That was done by far too many people when the trgedy unfolded, specifically people in the White House and on Capitol Hill. We cannot forget these people. Katrina and its aftermath are part of the reason I decided last week to vote for Obama. This type of suffering has no place in America.

    February 15, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  6. Dale Mead

    Dear Press department,
    I am but one voter of millions; I hear the talk of these super delegates that in the end maybe the final decision of who will be the Democratic Party nominee. I have a couple of words to share with them “Taxation without representation” do these words “WE THE PEOPLE and BY THE PEOPLE” still have any meaning left? For those super delegates who forget a quick reminder WE THE PEOPLE put in office and WE THE PEOPLE can take you out of office.

    Dale Mead
    Vancouver Wa.

    February 15, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  7. JOHN

    Still don't understand spending that kind of money to rebuild in an extreme flood-prone area. It's somewhat like sticking your finger in a light socket...for the second time.

    "But these are my roots!" I heard people scream

    Well, I grew up in a military family, so my "roots" were yanked up a dozen or two times. I have no complaints. I can be happy most everywhere.

    Live with it.

    February 15, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  8. Todd

    I am FROM New Orleans, heard Obama speak here, and he had the most detailed, specific, and smart plan to rebuild of ANYbody I have heard from any politician (local, state, or fed) so Obama haters-please stop using New Orleans as a means to attack.

    February 15, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  9. Love Huckabee

    This is about Katrina, not about politics. Americans are pathic. I hope these people can rebuild. Partly I blame Ray Nagen, because the dim wit could have done something abou this also. She's a worthless mayor.

    Yes, I'm black, and love me some Obama if you want to know.

    February 15, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  10. Jack from WV

    So far all the candidates have mentioned their stand on the war in Iraq, Social Security and a United Health care system, yet not one candidate has mentioned the fact that New Orleans is still in ruins and what they might do to rebuild this mega city. It’s hard to believe in these candidates when they forget about New Orleans. This city should be rebuilt to show the rest of the world how great we are as a people and make New Orleans a shinning star!!

    February 15, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  11. "A very Independent voter"

    Beware !!! Many Independent voters have been voting for Obama so to remove Hilary as the potential leader by shifting the momentum towards Obama but when the official voting is done in November the intention of a large number of these Independent voters is to vote for McCain. What a wonderful political system. The last line of defence is the "super delegates" who can protect the certainty of winning the election by siding with Hilary. Vice-President Obama sounds very good anyway...

    February 15, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. encee

    New Orleans always was rife with corruption. That is one of the causes of the inevitable flooding that New Orleans suffered. A long succession of inept and corrupt officials allowed conditions to become totally storm-complacent.
    The Mayor was among the complacent. He was sure the hurricane was not capable of doing more than some wind damages. He left City Hall and occupied higher ground only after realizing the extent of the impending wrath of Nature.
    It then became CYA time at City Hall. And Katrina ran through the puny defenses of man-made structures, structures allowed to become inadequate against hurricanes in a hurricane prone area.
    It seems too much to ask that corruption cease, for lawlessness to cease, and for officialdom to step up to the plate and take a whack at actually fixing something.
    I should live so long.

    February 15, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. mike

    What happened to CNN's policy of blogs being on subject? And as for the "subject", the people of New Orleans re-elected Ray Nagin – guess his "campaign promises" were as weak as those of other politicians.

    February 15, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. Guns N' Roses

    I do not understand why a first world country and the most powerful one in the world cannot adequately provide disaster relief and reconstruction after almost 3 years since the catastrophe. Why is the infrastructure so severely lacking in the first place? Building levees and a drainage system is so much simpler and cheaper than invading and occupying another country halfway around the world. This seems like a story from a third world country in Africa. I feel sorry for the tens of thousands of Americans who suffer under the seemingly limitless inadequacy of the state and federal governments.

    February 15, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Paulette

    Why is this being allowed in New Orleans?How can we spend money on
    trailors that make residents ill- Why are they not all being returned for a refund- how can Bush and his group get away with robbing us blind– What we have done and not done in New Orleans is simply something we would expect in a third work country All of those residents shoud be back in their newly built homes– the shame of the unecessary deaths should stay on Bush's record forever his father not going to Florida for that disastor killed his presidency ( whihc was not fare as he was really a good President) why has this not been a daily Issue-? Untill New Orleans gets cleaned up and rebuilt

    Obama is appearing more and more like a better talking Bush-charm but no substance– question him Put him to the task– he was not in any tough debates before Show us what he is made of make him debate– maybe I am wrong ii want him to prove me wrong– Find out how he got the money for his home ( how he got to buy it way under value) and the land next to his home You all crucified the Clintons for far less that what this seems to be– I see no one doing anything to make this man show what he is truly made of–

    Hillary shows us Oobama does not– we do not need a super star we need a commander in chief

    February 15, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. Jerry


    February 15, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  17. Arthur

    Why don't we take some of the money from the income taxes for one month and spend it on our infrastructure... including rebuilding New Orleans. Honestly its our money being thrown away shouldn't we decide how it is spent?

    February 15, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. Gwen

    I am an Obama supporter and I think that his track record for Katrina relief is very strong when compared to others...

    He rallied Illinois residents to donate time/money to storm victims, sponsored legislation to help families stay connected in the wake of the storm, sponsored legislation to protect communities, sponsored legislation to make the water potable, and sponsored legislation to improve the infrastructure of the region.

    I was in New Orleans this past October and was completely appalled that the media (with the exception of recent coverage surrounding presidential positioning) has completely dropped the reconstruction; it is forgotten territory for most. – out of site, out of mind.

    Washington really messed this up and there is NO excuse for the recovery process to be so slow. There is much improvement to be made, but in reading Obama's record and his proposed plan (to rebuild everything from Levees to hospitals and schools by 2011), I feel like the dialogue is finally regaining momentum.

    February 15, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  19. Stephen,Wilmington,NC

    We in America seam to over look the obvious. America is now starting to reap all of what we have sown. I tell you as a Watchman on The Wall that more of these storms along with enormous earth quakes and other devastating storms are in the near future. This has nothing to do with global warming, this is because we as a Nation have turned our backs on God. This country WAS founded on Christian belief. There are many that try and dispute the facts but all one needs to do is study U.S. History. The Pilgrims came over in the Mayflower to escape persecution from the Church of England, (The Kings so-called church). God has greatly blessed America without question. If you don't believe that then look at the odds of us winning against the British Army in our fight for freedom. What happened to New Orleans was the Mighty Hand of God trying to get our attention and see that HE is in control of everything including the weather. New Orleans was and is one of the most evil cities in America. All the crime and murder that is just a shame. Peoples hearts have become cold and waxed and they sometimes kill just for fun. I heard even some ministers say that God had nothing to do with the storm. Well I wish those ministers would read their Bible again. How do they explain Sodom and Gomorrah. These two cities were just as New Orleans and God brought down judgement upon them. Sadly more American cities are going to face the same judgement because they refuse to turn from their wicked ways. To those reading this and chuckling and saying that I'm wrong I would just ask you to think, what if I'm right. We are living in extraordinary times. I believe the last days. We as a Nation founded upon the Ten Commandments,(Gods Laws) must wake up because a time of judgement like no other in history is coming soon.

    February 15, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. Independent-Latina-voter, Salt Lake City, UT

    Can't believe New Orleans is part of the...GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH! As the conservatives like to boast!

    It is shameful that this poor city is still looking like a bomb hit it. SHAME ON the Bushies!

    Obama 08!

    February 15, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  21. Andrew

    I have to hand it to Mr. Wolf, yes New Orleans is struggling and needs help with reconstruction.
    And im flattered that he took time off of his hectic schedule to physically tour this area,
    However i shall take this oppurtunity to urge him to make sure that if he is chairing the debate between Hillary and Obama, to try and at least conceal his bias, and to hone his skills as argueably the best political correspondant there is.
    I mean no cutting to commercials without giving Obama or hillary for that matter time to respond.
    And further more get rid of that people meter which starts at 70% before Hillary opens her mouth, and drops to 50% as soon as Obama speaks.
    Last but not least don't try and speculate wheter something said is an attack.
    I am counting on you Wolf Blitzer, my 4 yr old calls you Wolf Pullitzer,
    and rightfully so,you gain more by being objective

    February 15, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  22. Jose

    It is not the Government's duty or obligation to take care of anyone. These people have had more money come into the community than any other city in the U.S. that has suffered natural disasters. Fraud and misuse of Federal funds is rampant in New Orleans.

    February 15, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  23. Thimbletack

    If they had voted Republican in the last election they might have gotten aid.The great Uniter must have felt they were against him instead of for him.

    February 15, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. austin

    I will tell the New York Governor that their is nothing like "Third world Country" It is time for him to consult his english teacher to let him know that it is called Developing country.

    Buffalo, N.Y.

    February 15, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. Sparkle, in MO

    Paulette you seem to forget that Barack Obama had a job before he began running for U.S. President. He has made his taxes public, unlike Hillary Clinton. Do you know where Hillary Clinton got $5 million to loan to her campaign?

    February 15, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
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