Gulf Coast marks a difficult 6 yrs since Katrina

A manicured lawn surrounds the foundation of a destroyed home along Flood St. in New Orleans, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. AP Photo

Monday marked the passage of six difficult years of rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina for devastated Gulf Coast communities. In dozens of towns along the Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, residents gathered to honor the more than 1,800 people who lost their lives to the storm and the catastrophic human failure to protect against it.

In addition to the human toll, Katrina is still the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, and rebuilding from it has been challenging, to say the least.

Besides the much-talked-about red tape between rebuilding dollars and rebuilding projects, the reconstruction of Gulf Coast communities has been made challenging by the recent crash in the economy.

A flood of federal and private aid dollars after the storm gave many local government leaders in devastated towns and communities across the Coast the idea that they could and should rebuild bigger and better, but then regular municipal revenues bottomed out.

In Waveland, Miss., where the post-Katrina landscape looked like a squadron of bulldozers had rumbled through the town, city leaders recently dissolved the police department, and are considering allowing casinos in a bid to keep the budget afloat, The Sun Herald of Biloxi reports.

Just a few towns over in the also-devastated Iberville, Miss., city leaders built a large new city hall after the storm, but are now contemplating renting out the bottom floor to make ends meet, the Sun Herald reports.

In New Orleans, there has been a blossoming of optimism under new Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Although the promise of construction cranes dotting the landscape there never materialized after the storm, the city has been coming back one house, and one new small business at a time.

The symbol of that city's morass, the Lower 9th Ward, is still a sparsely populated landscape, but new houses continue to be built, largely due to private charities like the Make It Right Foundation.

Despite the hardships, many New Orleans residents are upbeat, as one Mardi Gras season rolls into the next, uninterrupted.

The levees around New Orleans, which infamously failed after Katrina and led to most of the destruction and death in lower Louisiana, are continually being worked on. That said, the Army Corps of Engineers and state officials are currently mired in a debate over whether there is enough money to complete the massive levee rebuilding project, The Times-Picayune reports.

President Barack Obama said recently the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina illustrates the need for the federal government to respond as best it possibly can to natural disasters.

Some have cited the example of New York City's hyper-vigilant response to Hurricane Irene, during which the country's largest city had no fatalities, as one of the legacies of Hurricane Katrina.

  • Joshua Norman

    Joshua Norman is a Senior Editor at CBSNews.com.

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