8.27.2009

FOUR YEARS LATER: Katrina fatigue and hurricane's forgotten victims

By Jesse Muhammad, Final Call Staff Writer

(FinalCall.com) - Four years ago when Angel Robinson evacuated from New Orleans, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she only expected to be away from home for a few days and looked forward to returning back to her job at City Hall. “You really don't know how fragile things are and life is until you have to throw everything you own into a garbage pile on the side of the street. It is still painful because I will never forget that moment,” she said.

The world watched as Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast in 2005, making landfall on Aug. 29 in southeast Louisiana. It has been recorded as the costlies thurricane, as well as one of the five deadliest, in the history of theUnited States.

From central Florida to Texas, Katrina caused severe destruction, much of it due to the high storm surge. Then there were the failures that happened after the storm rolled through the region. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically collapsed. Eventually 85 percent of the city became flooded along with neighboringparishes, and floodwaters remained for weeks.

Nearly 1,900 people lost their lives in the actual hurricane and subsequent floods. Millions were evacuated to all corners of the country via cars, planes, and charter buses. Thousands are still displaced and in need of psychological repair.

“Four years later, the mental weight of Katrina is still on many of us, including myself,” longtime New Orleans activist Mtangulizi Sanyika told The Final Call. Mr. Sanyika is project manager for the African-American Leadership Project. He has been commuting back and forth to Houston the last four years.

“There has been some progress made in the city but most of the poor areas are still in need of repair,” Mr. Sanyika said. “But I believe Katrina fatigue has settled in more and more every year, meaning people have forgotten about us. So the struggle continues.

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