Spared worst of Katrina, life in River Parishes still changes

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 28, 2009

By David Vitrano

Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of one of the greatest natural disasters ever to unfold in the United States.

On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, forever changing lives and the face of south Louisiana. The nation watched in horror as the city of New Orleans filled with water and its citizens scrambled to find shelter and sustenance.

Four years later, some progress has been made but much of the city remains in ruins. Furthermore, an extraordinarily high crime rate has shattered the dream of many for a “new” New Orleans.

Although the River Parishes were largely spared the destruction the metro area saw, life has changed here, as well, though much of it has been for the better.

Since 2005, the population in the region has spiked by several thousand as many former New Orleanians have sought higher ground since the storm. Additionally, the lessons learned during Katrina have led to better, more efficient disaster plans throughout the region.

Next week—Sept. 1—also marks the first anniversary of Hurricane Gustav, the storm that brought extensive damage and prolonged power outages to the River Region.

Although that anniversary will not be marked by the vigils and tributes occurring throughout the New Orleans metro area this weekend, many in the region will remember Gustav by the continued struggles and hardships they have faced in the wake of that storm as well as Hurricane Ike, which again inundated parts of the River Parishes a couple of weeks later.

According to a release from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), its Louisiana District “has approved more than $185 million in disaster loans to help more than 5,000 Louisiana homeowners, renters and businesses recover and rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.”

For more information on assistance related to these storms, visit