Katrina Survivor Describes 'New Normal'

Gralen Banks outside FEMA trailer i i

hide captionGralen Banks stands outside his FEMA-issued trailer. It sits in the driveway of his house in the 13th Ward of New Orleans.

Courtesy of Gralen Banks
Gralen Banks outside FEMA trailer

Gralen Banks stands outside his FEMA-issued trailer. It sits in the driveway of his house in the 13th Ward of New Orleans.

Courtesy of Gralen Banks
Inside the Banks home

hide captionThe Banks home still awaits repairs after Hurricane Katrina inflicted severe water damage two years ago.

Courtesy of Gralen Banks
FEMA trailers

hide captionTwo FEMA trailers, including the one where the Banks family lives (right), are parked between homes in the 13th Ward of New Orleans.

Courtesy of Gralen Banks

Two years ago, Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of Gulf Coast residents forever. Fourth generation New Orleanean Gralen Banks is no exception. His home on Loyola Avenue, in the city's 13th Ward, was ravaged by the storm. He now resides in a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer, parked outside his house. It sits on what once was his driveway.

"I'm in a trailer, a lovely government-issued mobile condominium," Banks says. "I could complain, but I won't."

Six steps take Banks from one end of his trailer to the other — front to back. He admits that it's a tight space for him, his wife, his daughter and a grandchild, but they make it work.

"You adapt or you die," Banks says.

Others living in FEMA trailers are grouped into larger communities, also known as FEMA trailer parks. The Bankses, parked outside their house, consider themselves fortunate.

They are able to keep an eye on the house, which Banks calls his "shotgun double." It remains gutted and waiting for repair. In the two years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall, only the roof has been replaced. Banks says the cost of rebuilding supplies has been astronomical.

"Everything that we do is affected by Katrina and the flood — from buying a gallon of milk to buying a truckload of sheetrock," he says

Still, he says, for now, they choose to stay put.

"I'd rather be in a FEMA trailer in New Orleans than in a penthouse anywhere else," Banks says.

Hear the full interview by clicking the "Listen" button in the upper left corner of this page.

Written and produced for the Web by Lee Hill.

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