It's been four years since the storm caused so much devastation on the Gulf Coast. The eye of Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, killing hundreds, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and changing lives forever.
The aftermath of Katrina broke through the levees in Louisiana, leaving the Crescent City under water.
Since the storm, thousands upon thousands of volunteers have helped rebuild the cities. However as the four-year anniversary approaches, many people don't realize there is still so much destruction.
Redevelopment will take some. The central areas of the cities look fine, but if you journey on the outskirts, it's hard to miss some of the destruction. There are still people who haven't returned to their storm battered homes. There are still many businesses that will never return. Believe it or not, there are still FEMA and MEMA cottages sitting atop vacant land. This is especially dangerous since the coast is at the height of hurricane season.
City governments battle over whether or not to build "affordable" housing. In the meantime, so many people are left without a place to live.
Of course Louisiana and Mississippi's affluent were rebuilding within months of the storm. You can't miss the four story homes, boats and fancy design that sit along the beachfront. Those storm survivors are fine. However, it's the everyday citizen who still struggles four years later.
Hotel and nightlife helped New Orleans rebuild, while the casino industry is keeping Biloxi and Gulfport afloat. The unemployment rate in both South Mississippi and New Orleans is lower than the national average.
In New Orleans, events like The Essence and Jazz Festivals are back to pre-Katrina levels. The revenue generated is obvious when you travel through the heart of the city.
In Mississippi, all but one of the casinos are back up and running. Plans are in the works to build a seafood museum, a welcome center and revamp parks and other city property.
But what about living?
I understand that you must attract visitors but more people seem to be fascinated at the remaining destruction rather than museums and parks. Leaders should focus on attracting residents NOT visitors. Who would want to live in an area where there is still so much destruction and crime. If people have no place to live or work they will do whatever it takes to feed their families.
That's the real problem Mr. Gulf Coast.
I'm sure that people are thankful for the continuous support from the rest of the nation. But come on, take some accountability! It's not all about nightlife and restaurants. There has to be a balance between live, work and play. Otherwise, I'm afraid your 20 year projection plan will take 40 years. That is..if Mother Nature remains as kind as she has been over the last few years. kind.