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Introduction: It's Far From Over
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Photo by Frank J. Methe, Clarion Herald

IN AUGUST 2005, various parts of the southern United States were hit by a total of five hurricanes. One of those will live in infamy as the costliest and among the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.

Hurricane Katrina made landfall for a second time on August 29, 2005, as a Category 3 hurricane. A week before, it had crossed southern Florida, killing 14 people, before regaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Due to its size, it brought devastation to over 100 miles of coastline from Alabama to Mississippi to Louisiana. Much of the destruction came from flooding brought on by storm surges, some of which reached 30 feet high. In New Orleans those surges overran and broke down the city’s levee system, leaving 80 percent of the city under 12-15 feet of water.

Three weeks later, Hurricane Rita delivered a second blow to the region, hitting just west of where Hurricane Katrina made landfall and compounding an already desperate situation.

The destruction was staggering—over 1,800 dead, hundreds of thousands more displaced and at least $75 billion in damage. And even those numbers are a best-guess estimate and may worsen over time. As of May 2006, 705 people still remain categorized as missing in Louisiana.

This past April, three assistant editors of this magazine—John Feister, Christopher Heffron and I—traveled to New Orleans to witness the destruction firsthand and try to provide a snapshot of life after Katrina. While there we remained aware, however, that this was just one area affected. During our three days in the city, we witnessed and heard stories of faith, hope and rebuilding. In this special section, we offer those stories.

Christopher Heffron has also written an editorial based on his experiences in New Orleans.


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