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October 7th, 2009
07:28 PM ET

Is Chicago another Katrina?

Program Note: Anderson is reporting live from Chicago tonight. More on what's being done to curb the violence. AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks during a news conference in Chicago on Wednesday.

Mishan Afsari
AC360°

I watch AC360° report on youth violence in Chicago, and it’s the most thought provoking national news for me since Hurricane Katrina. In fact, I see strong parallels between the two stories. And the question I’m always left with is: how can they be helped?

In late August 2005 when I heard a hurricane was threatening to hit hard in the gulf coast, I admit, I thought – it’s a hurricane – it happens, but it wasn’t going to affect me. I imagine many of us thought the same. But only days later, the whole country was wondering when the help would arrive to the people suffering from that devastating natural disaster.

Now it’s Chicago. It’s not natural, but it’s a disaster by most standards. So far this year, 57 kids aged 18 and under were victims of homicide in Chicago, according to the Chicago Police Department. Last year, 100 kids were killed.

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Filed under: Chicago Killings • Hurricane Katrina
August 28th, 2009
11:02 PM ET

Video: New Orleans' levees improved?

Program Note: Four years after Katrina, what is New Orleans like now? Some residents continue to face challenges as the Big Easy keeps trying to rebuild. Take a look at In Depth: After the Storm. And to learn about ways you can make a difference, visit Impact Your World.

August 28th, 2009
04:38 PM ET

Reckless Neglect: A disaster waiting to happen...again?

Stephen Flynn, Frank J. Cilluffo, and Sharon L. Cardash
AC360° Contributors

Katrina, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, roared ashore on the Gulf Coast four years ago on August 29, 2005. The images of floating corpses and storm survivors stranded on rooftops and at the Superdome will long be seared in our collective memories. Even today, many families throughout the Gulf region are finding the road to recovery to be a long and arduous one.

For those of us during the late summer of 2005 who were fortunate enough to reside outside of harm’s way, we should pause on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to reflect on this sobering fact: 9 out of 10 Americans live in a place that faces a moderate to high risk of a natural disaster. North America is a beautiful continent, but Mother Nature is not always very kind to it. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, and high-wind damage are always in the offing.

While Katrina serves as a forceful reminder of the inevitability of natural disasters, it underscores another important lesson: the risk we will become victims will rise dramatically if we neglect infrastructure. We now know that New Orleans should have survived the storm largely unscathed. The city’s flood protection system was supposed to withstand a direct hit by a powerful Category 3 hurricane. But New Orleans dodged the worst of the storm because at the last minute, Katrina’s center veered east so that the winds that buffeted New Orleans were barely above Category 1. Tragically, because the levees had been so shabbily maintained, they started to fail even before the full fury of the storm had arrived. In the end, it was not an Act of God that doomed so many New Orleanians. It was the neglect of man.

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August 28th, 2009
04:25 PM ET

4 years after Katrina, NOLA mental health system still in crisis

Alesia Crockett, who suffers from bipolar disorder, ended up in a hospital hours outside New Orleans.

Alesia Crockett, who suffers from bipolar disorder, ended up in a hospital hours outside New Orleans.

Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

As the storm raged outside her hospital room four years ago, an equally consuming force hijacked Alesia Crockett's mind: deep depression.

For days, Crockett lay in darkness and a tangle of sweaty hospital bed sheets, one among hundreds of desperate patients trapped inside Charity Hospital in 2005, while outside, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath battered the city.

Crockett had been admitted to Charity's inpatient mental health unit after having a psychotic episode. She had struggled for years with bipolar disorder, an illness that causes her to volley between euphoria and profound depression.

She said she barely remembers Katrina.

"Most of the time, I was in a fog, but I do remember some things," Crockett said. "Where my room was, I could see thousands of people wandering, and I could see the waters rise."

Keep reading...


Filed under: Hurricane Katrina
August 28th, 2009
12:21 PM ET
August 28th, 2009
10:45 AM ET

Does Obama care about New Orleans?

Harry Shearer says the White House isn't getting actively involved in protecting New Orleans from flooding.

Harry Shearer says the White House isn't getting actively involved in protecting New Orleans from flooding.

Harry Shearer
Special to CNN

I spent much of this month in my adopted hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Uncharacteristically for August, the streets and restaurants and galleries and music clubs were largely full and throbbing with energy.

There are hubs of entrepreneurs all over town trying to invent the future. And thankfully, Mayor Ray Nagin's term is only months away from its end.

Between my weeks in the Crescent City, I joined some local folks in traipsing up to the Aspen Institute to share the news of New Orleans with interested outsiders. One talked about the progress in rebuilding homes. Another discussed the reform of the public-school system, the decoupling of the schools from a centralized board, resulting in the city becoming the leader in charter-school enrollment.

A third talked about the move to neighborhood medical clinics, an effort to replace the hospital beds missing in the flooding's wake.

A fourth reported the good economic statistics, marred only by the continuing shortage in affordable rental housing (80,000 units were whacked by the flood). And a fifth discussed the citizen activism that is helping, along with a determined U.S. attorney (who's just sent Rep. William Jefferson and his brother Mose to jail), to clean up local politics.

After all, it was New Jersey pols, not New Orleans ones, who got snagged in a scheme involving black-market kidneys. Wish we'd thought of that.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Barack Obama • Hurricane Katrina
August 27th, 2009
11:00 PM ET

AC tweets from New Orleans

Anderson is anchoring from New Orleans tonight where he’s talking to locals about what the city is like today, four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.

Some residents continue to face challenges as the Big Easy tries to rebuild. Anderson will also meet up with New Orleans native James Carville for a tour of the city.

@andersoncooper: From ac: just landed back in new orleans. Its great to be back here. Four years since katrina. I'm meeting up with James Carville shortly.

@andersoncooper: From ac: just finished shooting a tour around new orleans with james carville. Its great to see the growth in the life of the city!

Follow his tweets today here.

Program Note: Four years after Katrina, what is New Orleans like now? Some residents continue to face challenges as the Big Easy keeps trying to rebuild. Take a look at In Depth: After the Storm. And to learn about ways you can make a difference, visit Impact Your World.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Anderson Cooper • Hurricane Katrina • New Orleans
August 27th, 2009
10:56 PM ET

Photo Gallery: AC and James Carville tour New Orleans

AC360°

Anderson is anchoring from New Orleans tonight where he reports on how locals are coping four years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. Some residents continue to face challenges as the Big Easy keeps trying to rebuild. Earlier today, Anderson met up with CNN Political Contributor and New Orleans native James Carville for a tour of the city. Check out this photo gallery of where they stopped.


Anderson and James Carville sit down at a Pascal Manale's restaurant in New Orleans.


Anderson meets a New Orleans resident who tells him she's glad he came back and shares her own story.


Outside of Pascal Manale's restaurant.

FULL POST

August 27th, 2009
09:50 PM ET

New Orleans Habitat and the Musicians' Village

AC360°

Anderson is anchoring from New Orleans tonight where he is reporting on how the city is rebuilding four years after Hurricane Katrina.

Tonight we look into the work being done by New Orleans Habitat - an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity – which builds affordable homes in partnership with sponsors, families and volunteers.

Since Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Habitat has built 242 homes in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, and more than 46 homes are currently under construction.

One project under way is the creation of the Musicians Village - a site that will consist of more than 75 homes for musicians in the city who, because of Katrina, are in need of affordable housing. The project was conceived by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis. Its centerpiece will be the Ellis Marsalais Center for Music, dedicated to the music education and development of homeowners.

Learn more about the Musicians Village and the work of New Orleans Habitat here.

Program Note: Four years after Katrina, what is New Orleans like now? Some residents continue to face challenges as the Big Easy keeps trying to rebuild. Take a look at In Depth: After the Storm. And to learn about ways you can make a difference, visit Impact Your World.

August 27th, 2009
04:24 PM ET

After the Storm: New Orleans' economic rebirth

Sean Callebs and Jason Morris
CNN

While much of the nation struggles mightily to claw its way out of the punishing recession, New Orleans' rebirth is taking shape and bucking the national trend of an economic downturn. Visitors here will notice a steady flow of commercial and residential construction that is becoming a daily part of the city's life. In many ways, the billions of dollars that poured into New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina is providing a huge economic buffer.

We all know the horrible statistics from when Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped New Orleans off the face of the map. More than 1800 lives were lost, 80 percent of the city was left under water, and the devastation left an estimated $100 billion in damage.

For the locals, the recession was the storm, and the stimulus was the influx of billions of dollars of federal and private money that continues to pour in and provide an economic buffer. This American city suffered a dramatic blow. After Katrina, close to 80,000 homes had to be rebuilt, attracting legions of construction workers and contractors. The effort helped to create jobs, and keep the city's unemployment rate at about 7.2 percent, while the national average dipped to around 9 percent. And even though the value of houses has plummeted nationwide, home prices in New Orleans have actually increased by about 1.1percent from 2008 to 2009.

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