As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey (now a tropical storm) continue to flood Houston — just days before the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — I visited Shannon Rainey, whose house was built on top of a Superfund site in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. Rainey is worried about family members in Houston. She knows all too well how long it can take to get back what is lost in a storm. “I still live with Katrina every day,” she told me.
New Orleans remains threatened by bands of rain extending from Harvey, causing many residents with fierce memories of Katrina to remain on edge.
Earlier this month, the city proved it was ill-prepared for hurricane season nearly a year after Baton Rouge’s 1,000-year flood. Rain inundated New Orleans, with more than nine inches falling in only three hours, exposing that the city’s pump system could not operate at full capacity. The city is still scrambling to make the needed repairs and clean the sewer system’s catch basins, which remain clogged in many places.
“This city isn’t ready to handle a lot of rain, let alone a hurricane,” Rainey said, while glancing across the street at damage caused by Katrina, still there almost 12 years later.