We have been coming to New Orleans every year since Katrina. With each visit we always see a little more improvement. Anyone who was here seven years ago will tell you that this city had a long way to go to rebuild.
It wasn't just the buildings, streets and homes - the residents had to bounce back too. Their spirit has made this town the place tourists from around the world know and love. But they had deep wounds that needed to heal.
Denise Herbert was one of those people. She was displaced after Katrina and had to move to Atlanta with her children. Herbert wanted to bring her 82-year-old mother, Ethel, but she was missing.
For months Herbert struggled to locate her mother. Time passed and she couldn't get any answers. Finally, more than four months after the storm, Ethel's body was identified.
It took years for Herbert to return to New Orleans. Feelings of loss and the pain of wondering how her mother felt in her last days are still hard to get over, but she knew one thing: she wanted to return to the city she loved. With the help of her supportive family, she is happy to call New Orleans home again.
As the city celebrates for Madi Gras in the midst of the Super Bowl festivities, one thing is certain. New Orleans is a better place because people like like Denise Herbert are back. The city wouldn’t be the same without them.
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