Seth Doane's Notebook: Katrina Anniversary

Katie Couric is on assignment. I'm Seth Doane.

It's been four years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and parts of Mississippi - killing 16 hundred people and causing more than 40 billion dollars worth of damage.

Homes and lives were washed away and the nation watched in helpless horror as faces soaked in tears and flood waters pleaded for rescue.

Still today, 62-thousand homes and buildings remain uninhabitable and vacant, and 17-hundred families are living in temporary housing. Though the waters have receded, many residents have yet to land on solid ground.

But there is some good news to share.

New Orleans, as President Obama stated this weekend, is the fastest growing city in America. Nearly three quarters of its pre-Katrina population has returned, and the unemployment rate is about 2 points below the national average.

The voyage to recovery has been long and hard for the city known as the Big Easy, but there are signs of hope on horizon.

I'm Seth Doane, CBS News.