The BBC News website spoke to current and former New Orleans residents about what life is like almost four months on from the Hurricane Katrina.
Many homes still lie in ruins across the city
Here, in the second of two pieces, they talk about trying to survive and where they will spend their first Christmas after Katrina.
LINDA GUERINGER, NOW IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
Linda Gueringer evacuated to Austin, Texas, where she has remained since the hurricane.
I miss New Orleans so much.
I returned there last week for the second time since Hurricane Katrina and cried.
It was horrible. My entire neighbourhood, Gentilly, where I grew up, where my family lived and where I built my own home, was destroyed.
There is no sign of life there now and worst of all there is no clean-up or rebuilding going on in that area. The only areas being rebuilt as far as I can see are the money-making tourist areas. But neighbourhoods like mine are being ignored.
The mayor keeps asking people to come back but as far as I can see he's not doing anything to get them back.
I'm not in a Christmas spirit this year. There'll be no presents. I will pray, but I will not be celebrating
My house was completely destroyed. Everything had to be thrown away. The only thing that survived was a faded picture of me and my late mother.
My neighbours' houses are gone. The little community I grew up in and knew all my life is gone.
My neighbours are spread out across several states.
There is nothing left - no people, no cats, no dogs, no birds, nothing.
My insurance just covered my mortgage. I am now at the mercy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). My SBA loan has been approved but I'm waiting for the money and am not sure what I'm going to do with it when I get it.
I don't know if I'm going to be able to rebuild.
My heart is in New Orleans but I don't think it's logical to return.
I'm not convinced enough money is being given for rebuilding or to strengthen the levees.
The people of New Orleans will celebrate a very different holiday season this year
When 9/11 happened, the government stepped up and helped people by giving them proper financial assistance in the form of grants.
But because this is not tied to terrorism, we're just offered loans.
I'm disillusioned and bewildered that such a catastrophe could happen and that people could die waiting for help. I'm also angry that there was no proper preparation for something like this, no apparent plan for the city.
So I'm not in a Christmas spirit this year. There'll be no presents. I will pray, but I will not be celebrating.
I am sad for the whole city. We were innocent victims of this and we should be getting more help to rebuild our lives. It's still a disaster area four months on in a major US city.
The flavour of New Orleans - its people - is gone. It won't return any time soon.
Some of my family have returned and are staying in hotels and trailers. They are mostly supporting themselves and are just trying to get by.
I am retired, but I will have to take a part-time job soon. I have been put in urban development housing in Austin for the next 14 months.
I don't know anybody here, except for my one friend that I stayed with when I evacuated. It's just me and my two dogs.
WILLIAM DE BEN, 21, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT
William De Ben evacuated to Little Rock, Arkansas, before moving onto Baton Rouge and eventually returning to New Orleans in October.
This will definitely be the weirdest Christmas in New Orleans.
There is no holiday cheer here.
People are just trying to get their lives back together.
I was one of the first people back in the city that I knew. I came back to help re-open one of the first cafes to begin trading since the city was devastated.
I had to find somewhere to live. I previously lived on Oak St, but the ceiling in my apartment collapsed during the hurricane.
I'm sure I'll return some day to help rebuild, but for now I just want to get out of this city
But I am not staying here for long.
The carefree atmosphere of the city is gone and it will never be there again. There is still a curfew in place and there is still National Guard on the streets.
You can't go to the grocery stores or to bars or restaurants late at night. Before, everything was open 24 hours.
I have seen some people I know just returning for one day to try and salvage some of their belongings, before leaving again, some of them with nothing.
Others have returned to help rebuild. I've tried to do my bit by going out and picking up the trash, but I've been working so hard to keep the coffee shop open, I don't have much time.
I have ridden my bike around some of the worst-hit neighbourhoods. They are like one big graveyard.
I was attending school at University of New Orleans, but three quarters of the campus was flooded, so I have to find another school.
I will spend what may be my last Christmas for some time in New Orleans with my family, before moving north to Chicago.
I'm sure I'll return some day to help rebuild, but for now I just want to get out of this city.