For thousands of evacuees, going home to New Orleans has become a dream deferred. Living in bleak circumstances, they cannot afford to go back, or have nothing to go back to. Over the two years since Hurricane Katrina hit, the shock of evacuation has hardened many who now feel exiled.
While many are waiting on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), many have given up. Heartbroken and feeling defeated, some Katrina survivors are choosing to stay in areas where many made their exodus away from New Orleans.
Although the population of New Orleans grows with each coming month, there is still a huge lapse in demographics. Two years after Katrina, many communities are still in the disarray in which the residents left them. More than half of the population of New Orleans has yet to make the return trip back to the city. Most are in no hurry to return because they have rental assistance in their new found city or they are not sure about the state of New Orleans. In the mind of many evacuees there are still questions yet to be answered such as: Will the levees hold? Will a “Katrina” ever happen again? And if so will we be stuck out in the cold again?
“The city does not care about the citizens, that is simply what it comes down to,” said Harold Seals, lifelong New Orleans native.
Seals said after the storm, the story about New Orleans in need of help had complete media coverage. However, now when some citizens’ lives are still in shambles, the idea of how things used to be is becoming more distant.
“I do not even want to discuss the Road Home program, I would still be sitting in my trailer waiting on them,” added Seals.
The ironic situation with many residents is that they are out of town looking for work, but in New Orleans there a plethora of places for employment, but they have no place to live. Many New Orleanians share the same sentiments of Seals, especially those about the Road Home Assistance program. The Road Home in the eyes of many citizens was viewed as the blessing in disguise for those who lost their homes and had to relocate elsewhere. Needless to say the promises the program have discussed have not come through for many residents.
“The Road Home has given $6 billion to the citizens of New Orleans. Not the citizens, the home owners I should say,” said Fannie Wilson, lifelong New Orleans resident.
Wilson said she does not understand where the money is and who allocates the funds. “I know of nobody who owns a home and has received any money from that program (road home), now that is sad because everybody in New Orleans knows everybody,” Wilson added.
Walter Warren, a junior business management major at Dillard and lifelong resident of New Orleans also feels the effects of the lack of assistance of the Road Home program. As the head of his household, Warren has constantly tried to contact the program. Months ago, he received a call to set up a meeting with the offices, but has yet to hear anything further.Warren and his father were able to return to their pre-Katrina house, but without any help from the program.
Warren added, “I just do not understand how the people who owned their houses are being stuck out like this.”