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Gulf Coast diary: Your questions answered

Rhonda Buie is writing a diary on her travels through the US Gulf Coast visiting communities still affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Here, she answers some of your questions.


Q: What do people who are rebuilding think is the likelihood that another hurricane will again devastate the same area next summer or after? If it did happen again, would these people simply give up and leave the Gulf Coast area altogether?
Andrew Porter, Brooklyn, NY, USA

A: This has actually been a cause of some concern. Growing up in this area is interesting in that every year, we track hurricanes, hunker down, and watch them come in.

The possibility of a disaster like Katrina was always something the people of Louisiana were aware of for some time.

A storm like this is generally considered to happen every 50 to 100 years - so in reality, we were overdue for it in the opinion of some, and they are glad now that it's come and gone.

So we are praying that it will not happen again, but there are no guarantees.

Many people say they would leave if something this bad happened again.

However, I'm not certain how many people would actually be able to afford relocating somewhere else.

Q: What is the mood of the people who are waiting to rebuild? Do they think the government is doing enough? Do the people in Louisiana and Mississippi feel that they are being treated equally? Do they think one area gets more attention than others?
Kevin, Houston, Texas, USA

A: The people in the areas I'm visiting all believe that New Orleans is receiving far too much attention.

They do not believe that they are being treated equally.

They are angry and frustrated at being called 'Katrina parasites' by people outside of the destruction area, and currently do not pay much attention to the investigations going on regarding the post-Katrina response.

They are tired of going over it and believe that the politicians involved simply want to make themselves look good.

They want to move on with their lives and wish to do it immediately but feel that the people who could help them do this - whether they be insurance companies or senators - are simply not letting them.

There is a very real sense of isolation here.

Q: Are you really optimistic that the government will do more to help rebuild those shattered towns in the near future?
Chernor Jalloh, Almeria, Spain

A: I am not very optimistic about this.

In this case, city officials would have to receive funding from the state and ultimately federal level in order to complete the rebuilding of infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

Private citizens, with the help of insurance and other programs, would have to complete rebuilding of homes and businesses.

Without businesses, people will not move in. But in order to move in, people need housing.

The basics need to be addressed and for the smaller towns, I fear that they will not get what they need, being passed up for funding in favour of places like New Orleans.

Right now, I believe that many cities are going to end up relying on raising taxes for some residents in order to fund city rebuilding.

Q: Rhonda, have you got any old photos to compare with how it's all now changed? The destruction of the bridge is just phenomenal - and unbelievable that it hasn't been repaired yet, five months on.
Sandra Green, Bangor, North Wales, UK

A: I do not but I have had a chance to see the before and after photos of Bay St Louis taken by some former residents of the area.

I will try to obtain these photos. The difference is shocking.

It is strange to say, but when confronted by something like this, I find it very difficult to remember what things used to look like.

Other photos, such as ones of my parents' house do not show very much except a little external damage, and a forest of trees on the ground.

The damage in cases such as these is internal, caused by flooding and wind, and requires a house to be completely gutted of all inside material due to the warm, humid climate.

Mould in the area grows very quickly and can become a very dangerous health hazard.

Some homes can be seen with furniture tossed about inside and walls covered in brown or black muck.

This is a mixture of mould, sewage, oil and mud.

The end result is the loss of everything and can lead to a situation much like my parents', where they now live on the second floor of their house while rebuilding-if the home has a second floor at all.





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