August 29th, 2008
03:08 PM ET

But I just came home!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/29/art.vert.katrina.rebuilding.jpg caption="Rebuilding continues in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, last year." width=292 height=320]Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

At first glance, driving in from the airport in New Orleans last night, things didn’t seem much different than the last time I was here. 3 weeks ago, I was here working and things have been improving. We interviewed people in the lower 9th ward and talked with business owners who all said, New Orleans is on the way back.

Last night the interstate was jam packed as people were headed to the New Orleans Saints pre-season game at the Superdome and things seemed normal. Then, I got out of my car and started talking to people.

Raynell Hamilton works at our hotel and couldn’t help but tell us her worries. Raynell just moved back to New Orleans one year ago. She has been struggling working long hours and volunteering, but felt she needed to move her family back home to the 9th ward, where she lost everything. She says she did so at the urging of her family and husband to keep her family together. She moved to Houston where she says she lived for over a year, where she says, she was impressed with the opportunities the city had to offer. She was employed, getting out of the debt that the aftermath of Katrina put her in 3 years ago. But she felt compelled to move back home. Now, she says, if Gustav continues on it’s course toward New Orleans, she is leaving and never coming back. It’s too much, she says, to do all over again.

Filed under: Hurricane Katrina • Ismael Estrada
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Matt from Canada

    I all my travels I've gone on in the States and Canada only 4 cities I could back over and over again, NOLA,Montreal,Halifax and my hometown of Burlington,Ontario. Save NOLA don't let it die. I heard this song once called New Orleans is a Dying Whore after 2 major hurricanes in 3 years it might just be that.

    August 31, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I wonder how many others will decide to leave and not come back if Gustav strikes NOLA? I feel so much for all the ones who have come back and struggled to get back on their feet and now have to face Gustav.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 29, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  3. Perry

    It's really awful the way this nation's undercurrent of racism and GOP politics have kept New Orleans in disrepair. There are thousands of people living there in tents right now! I visited one of these sites in May and was saddened tremendously. The mainstream media has done little to nothing to expose the corruption taking place in the rebuilding efforts. There is no place like New Orleans. I've travelled around the world and if there is ANY city worth saving, NOLA is it.

    August 29, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  4. Catherine

    My prays are with everyone on the coast and New Orleans. I am from Louisiana. I have family there. I moved to Florida in 1988. I still love

    August 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  5. Brian

    I have heard similar stories from folks who live there. New Orleans is their home and they have lived there for generations. Each year i travel with a group from California to do relief work. last year we met a young woman who was living in a 2 bedroom apartment with her mom, her sister, and her 2 kids. It was tight, but there were all together. Pre-Katrina, she had two jobs and was going to school. Now all she can do is sit in the apartment and hope to find a job. I'm heading back in October and I hope to find her again.

    August 29, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  6. Cindy

    It has to be extremely disheartening to the people of NOLA that are just getting back on their feet to learn of Gustav. To finally be getting somewhere and then to see that in the blink of an eye it can all go away again. I hope for them that Gustav does no harm there!


    August 29, 2008 at 3:12 pm |