Tom Foreman | BIO
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/us/2010/08/25/foreman.bua.katrina.rebuild.cnn.640×360.jpg caption="Calming down the fears, and restoring the confidence of people who are trying to rebuild, is what Build Now is all about." width=300 height=169]
New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) - Much has been made of the more than quarter-million homes lost to Katrina along the Gulf Coast, and with good reason. Ride through almost any neighborhood that was hit and even five years later you can see the skeletons of buildings, or empty lots covered with weeds.
But to truly grasp the impact of this storm, you also have to consider who lived in those homes: Working families; the people who make the ports, the fishing business, the oil industry and the tourist attractions work.
Christina Zdanowicz and Katie Hawkins-Gaar
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/LIVING/08/25/waveland.hollisters.cnn/t1larg.hollisters.cnn.jpg caption="Paul and Carolyn Hollister, 72 and 67, look over photos of Hurricane Katrina's damage and reminisce about the devastating storm." width=300 height=169]
Waveland, Mississippi (CNN) - With Hurricane Katrina bearing down on the Gulf Coast, Paul and Carolyn Hollister grabbed a few belongings and headed to Florida in their RV. The couple figured they'd be gone for just 48 hours as they left their Waveland, Mississippi, home.
When they returned 10 days later, Waveland was in ruins.
Circling the neighborhood, the Hollisters saw just a handful of houses still standing. Black mud and downed trees altered the once-familiar landscape.
"We passed our house and didn't even recognize the area because there were no landmarks," Carolyn Hollister said. They spotted their home in the rearview mirror and turned around.
Tom Foreman | BIO
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/08/24/katrina.nola.levees/story.nola.levees.cnn.jpg caption="The Army Corps of Engineers says improved walls, levees are much stronger than when Hurricane Katrina hit." width=300 height=169]
Editor's note: Were government promises to rebuild New Orleans kept? CNN's Anderson Cooper returns to the Gulf Coast to see what has changed since Hurricane Katrina. Don't miss "In Katrina's Wake," an "AC360°" special at 10 p.m. ET Thursday on CNN.
New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) - We're cutting across the open water to the steady growl of a Coast Guard boat's twin engines. The heat index is somewhere between 100 and 1,000 degrees. Sure, you could cook an egg on the deck, but in this heat who'd want to?
It seems about right, since I've come to see what spurred some of the hottest words in the whole post-Katrina blame game: the flood protection system. Specifically, I'm here to look at the improvements that have been made since the storm, and to say they are substantial would be like saying the Superdome is a nice-size room.
Col. Robert Sinkler chats easily as we travel toward cranes, pilings, and massive concrete structures buzzing with workers in the ridiculous heat. "We're doing about 15 to 20 years of construction work in about 36 months," says Sinkler, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Hurricane Protection Office.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/US/02/03/super.bowl.preview/t1larg.brees.fans.gi.jpg caption="Saints quarterback Drew Brees celebrates with fans at the Superdome after New Orleans advanced to the Super Bowl." width=300 height=169]
James Carville | BIO
In September of 2005, no one could have anticipated what we saw in New Orleans last week. What happened on the football field and parade route after the Saints' Super Bowl victory is amazing and uplifting. But what's happening elsewhere in New Orleans also rises to that standard.
Consider the following:
The day before the Super Bowl, New Orleans participated in a historic mayoral election, as Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu won a stunning 66-percent of the vote, with unprecedented support among all races.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/10/louisiana.katrina.shootings/art.katrina.gi.jpg caption="Katrina evacuees cross the Industrial Canal. "]
Special to CNN
Copenhagen, Denmark, is 5,000 miles away from New Orleans, Louisiana. But representatives of the 192 nations gathering this week at the climate change conference need to keep the memory of a flooded New Orleans in mind.
Two years ago this month, the Make It Right Foundation was launched to help the families of New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward rebuild their lives and community. That was already two years after Katrina, and the once-vibrant neighborhood was still in ruins, failed by government and frustrated by a lack of progress.
Working with the Lower 9th Ward community, with families who lost everything in Katrina, with cutting-edge architects and inventive builders, we learned some truths and made some discoveries we would like to share with the climate change negotiators in Copenhagen:
We need urgent action. Climate change is real and happening now. The world already is reeling from the consequences - rising sea levels, more violent storms, more frequent flooding and prolonged droughts. Hurricane Katrina, the killer heat wave in Europe, China's floods and the enduring drought in Australia are not anomalies, they are harbingers.