La. Family Finishes Rebuilding, But Struggles Go On Four years after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana residents Donald and Colleen Bordelon say things are looking better. The construction on their house is finally complete. But their struggles aren't over — and there are some things they'll never get back.
NPR logo

La. Family Finishes Rebuilding, But Struggles Go On

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
La. Family Finishes Rebuilding, But Struggles Go On

La. Family Finishes Rebuilding, But Struggles Go On

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall on the Gulf Coast. Since shortly after that storm, we've been checking in with Donald and Colleen Bordelon of St. Bernard Parish, near New Orleans. Even when water filled the first floor of their house, they stayed. They've stayed ever since. And now their house is fixed up. The Boderlons have seen public works crews in their neighborhood, though the neighborhood is still mostly empty.


Mr. DONALD BORDELON: Yeah, road work and…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BORDELON: …they - we got a new street, you know.

INSKEEP: Although it must feel strange to put in a whole new street, and you've still got these properties on either side with slabs where there used to be houses, and still a lot of vacant houses, and so forth.

Mr. BORDELON: Exactly, man. They've still got a lot of slabs. They're starting to kind of tear them up now, you know. They - I guess one day, they'll go for sale, you know.

INSKEEP: Are there enough people around that there's some kind of street life? Does anybody ever have a block party or cookout?

Mr. BORDELON: No, no block parties, yet, you know, just, really, neighborhood friends, you know, everybody kind of getting together, you know.

INSKEEP: Although I bet you guys have been outside on the grill a little bit this summer.

Mr. BORDELON: Oh, of course. You know that. You know me. I've been get you down here again, you know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BORDELON: Eat some good crabs and some shrimp, some oysters, you know.

INSKEEP: Oh, my gosh. I'm, like, there now. I'm there now.

Mr. BORDELON: I heard that.

INSKEEP: If I were to, I don't know, go up in a helicopter, a balloon over St. Bernard Parish and I'm looking down, how different do you think St. Bernard Parish would look today than it did right after the storm hit?

Mr. DONALD BORDELON: It looks a lot better. You know, it really does look a lot better, 'cause, you know, most of the houses are pretty much cleaned up. Every street you ride up and down, you know, you see a lot of high grass, you know, here and there, you know. There's still a few houses or a few places on our street, the grass is, you know, four or five, six-foot high. You know, it's like a little set of woods, you know. I hate to say it, I'm still cutting my neighbor's grass next door and the house next door and the lot across the street that they just never did really - nobody fooled with, you know. You know, I just hate living next door to something like that. So, I take a couple extra hours every week, you know, and take care of it, you know?

INSKEEP: I'd like to ask you each, also - and I know you've had such tremendous spirit, which is one of the reasons we keep coming back to you. You've dealt with horrible things, and you just keep going. But what for you right now is hard, if anything?

Ms. BORDELON: The conveniences is what I miss before. Businesses that you were used to going to before isn't there anymore. So, you got to go with somebody else that you're not used to. But, you know, like everything else, you adapt. And I guess you just roll with the punches, like, you know, what can you do? Scream?

Mr. BORDELON: I really miss that. That's what I miss worse, you know, my garage, where I had a lot of tools in my garage. I ain't got one-sixteenth of what I had before. You know, I really lost a lot of tools, you know. It'd cost you a fortune to replace everything, you know.

INSKEEP: Was that a lifetime accumulation of tools?

Mr. BORDELON: Exactly. A lifetime through my daddy and, you know, some of his friends and some of the stuff he collected, you know - stuff you'll never get back again, you know.

INSKEEP: Are those the times now that you remember Hurricane Katrina, when you're just - the little things like you think of something…

Mr. BORDELON: Every, every day - every day. 'Cause, you know, you walk in a garage, and I got one of them. And you stop, oh, it's not there.

Ms. BORDELON: And you say, oh, wait. I knew we had it. And we go digging and we say, oh, no. That was pre-Katrina. That went with the storm.

Mr. BORDELON: Just things like that you really miss, you know.

INSKEEP: Well, Donald and Colleen Bordelon, it's always a pleasure to speak with you.

Ms. BORDELON: Take care.

Mr. BORDELON: Okay. You, too. Be careful.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.