New Orleans celebrates Super Bowl, but Lower Ninth still struggles

In this Jan. 31, 2013, photo, damaged houses sit vacant in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, a neighborhood that was hit hard by floodwaters from a levee break after Hurricane Katrina. The glittering party in the French Quarter is going stronger than ever. But as revelers celebrate the ultimate comeback from those dark days in 2005, there are still areas of New Orleans that do not look much different than they did right after Hurricane Katrina swept through. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky

(CBS News) The city of New Orleans was lauded by many as the perfect Super Bowl host city but eight years after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, recovery is still ongoing particularly in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

Community leader Patricia Jones told CBS News' James Brown that in New Orleans, it is a tale of two cities: the city characterized by a refurbished Superdome and the tourist-jammed French Quarter versus the Lower Ninth Ward, the city's poorest area. She says the Lower Ninth is making a slow recovery in part because the city government and other authorities are dragging their feet.

"Count the years, eight. For us, that's real. For every apology, it's not enough. All we know is that we're not home and these are people making decisions at the policy level that trickle down to regular folks and it hurts."

Pastor Fred Luter, who grew up in New Orleans and leads one of the city's largest churches, "For those of us from there, it's disheartening, discouraging, and a lot of us ask, 'Why?'" Luter said of the slow pace of progress in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Luter added that he believes the delayed cleanup is a not a matter of economics, or race necessarily. "I think it's priorities, I really do. We made it a priority to re-do the airport, we made it a priority to clean up downtown. It was a priority because the Super Bowl was coming, well, the Super Bowl is just one day, it's going to be gone. Let's make that same priority now for other areas of the city that need it really bad."

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu refutes the "tale of two cities" notion, but says the disparity is more "a tale of one part of the city getting back faster and another part of the city not coming back."

"A lot of people would say why would you spend so much time trying to get a Super Bowl here while we're not rebuilding some areas? The answer is because the economic impact. The need for us to be ready for the Super Bowl, both of those things forces us to work hard and work faster."

"The Lower Ninth Ward has become a symbol of whether we get back or not, "Laundrieu said. "It has become a symbol of whether the city is progressing or not. I would say this, that the entire city was under water: white, black, rich, poor, East, West, North, South. Everything was under water."

Aside from rebuilding concerns, New Orleans faces issues within their police department, which has recently been overhauled by the federal Justice Department due to widespread corruption. Landrieu's predecessor, former Mayor Ray Nagin has been indicted on 21 charges of corruption, including accepting bribes from post-Katrina building contractors.

Still, Pastor Luter remains optimistic that the city will rebound.

"New Orleans gets in your blood man, there is something about this city, that there is so many people who have been here all their lives and have no desire to leave," he explained.

And Landrieu says total rebuilding is yet to come.

"I tell the people of New Orleans, just straight up, you have been blessed with being asked to bear the burden for generations to come," the mayor said. "Our job is to build it back so those who come after us can do better."