6 Years After Hurricane Katrina, Much To Be Rebuilt

Steve Inskeep talks to Louisiana resident Colleen Bordelon on the sixth anniversary of when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Listeners have come to know Colleen and her husband Donald in conversations with Steve. Donald died last year and Colleen talks about her life in New Orleans now.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now, this morning of recovery from Irene is the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. For weeks afterward, Donald and Colleen Bordelon remained on the second floor of their flooded house in Saint Bernard Parish near New Orleans.

We checked in with the Bordelons many times as they rebuilt.

Mr. DONALD BORDELON: I try to stay happy all the time, man. But it's a big old mess down here, you know. Give us another holler back in a couple of months, you know, and we'll see where we're at then. I might be crying next time. I might be screaming and hollering.

INSKEEP: Even as many of their neighbors' wrecked homes were torn down, the Bordelons fixed up their house before Donald died last year. As this anniversary approached, we reached out to Colleen Bordelon once again.

Mrs. Bordelon.

Ms. COLLEEN BORDELON: Hello.

INSKEEP: Hey, it's Steve. How are you?

Ms. BORDELON: Very fine. Thank you. How are you doing?

INSKEEP: I'm OK. It's great to hear your voice again. I'm glad you could join us one more time.

Ms. BORDELON: Oh, I wouldn't miss it.

INSKEEP: Now, remind me about your street. Of course, right after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the street had been flooded - quite a few feet of water, a lot of houses ruined. And over the next couple of years, a lot of houses were torn down, some were rehabilitated. You guys rehabilitated yours. What's the street looks like now, if you woke up and down the street?

Ms. BORDELON: They still have plenty of lots. We used to be, what? The fifth house off the corner, now we're the second because the first three at the front of the block is gone, and nothing else rebuild.

INSKEEP: Are there also some lots on your streets where people are pioneering, where they've moved in?

Ms. BORDELON: No, not yet. Hey, but we're getting - they finally, some businessmen in New Orleans, they're going to reopen some shops. They're going to redo the shopping center. So they opened up like on a weekend a farmers market. And you can go and get like seafood, you know, shrimp and oyster and stuff, vegetables and stuff like that.

INSKEEP: Oh, that's nice. Does it still feel like a community to you then?

Ms. BORDELON: Oh, yeah. I mean people do come together. They kind of watch out for everybody. It's coming back slowly but surely. Like anything else, it takes time.

INSKEEP: Is this an anniversary that most people would rather forget, August 29?

Ms. BORDELON: Probably a lot of them already had. I mean we're not doing anything special. It's just another day to us. They ring a bell around noon or something. Theyll ring the bell by the Culture Center.

INSKEEP: Are you able to hear that bell if you happen to be at home?

Ms. BORDELON: Yes. You know, the house is going - you hear a lot. So it's like clearness.

INSKEEP: So you will maybe pause for moment when they ring the bell. And then you're going to go on with your day and go on with your life.

Ms. BORDELON: Yes, that's about what - that's all you can do.

INSKEEP: Now, after Donald's death there was a question of whether you would continue living in that house for while, or consider someplace else.

Ms. BORDELON: Oh yeah, I'm not going nowhere. My mother-in-law and I, we joined together. We'll, you know, I'm not moving out. No.

INSKEEP: How do you remember Donald, if I may ask?

Ms. BORDELON: Tender, caring, big teddy bear, I guess. I don't know - so many things.

INSKEEP: Donald's stuff is still in the house.

Ms. BORDELON: Yeah, I just haven't gotten to it. I don't know. It seems like I think about doing it, you know, this week and then something comes up and I don't get to it. It's still there hanging. His clothes are still hanging in the closet.

INSKEEP: I'm sorry to ask such personal questions, but people in the audience have come to know you through so many interviews over the years that they'll want to know how you're doing. Do you feel that you've been able, over the last year and a half or so to -has your life evolved a little bit? Have you been able to set your life on a steady course?

Ms. BORDELON: Oh well, I am in a regular routine. You know, go to work, go grocery shopping, same as they did before. You know. And I sometimes, you know, I might go a month or so and all of a sudden I know something on TV might remind me of him more - or something like that. And I just roll over and pat his side of the bed.

INSKEEP: Well, Colleen, it's always a pleasure talking with you. Thanks very much

Ms. BORDELON: You too, baby.

INSKEEP: Colleen Bordelon, St. Bernard Parish near New Orleans.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.