Video and editing by Kassi Schmitt
Residents of New Orleans explain why they stay true to their city even after something as destructive and damaging as Katrina hits.
The NOLA Now team sat down with Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his wife Kathy for an interview at their home in New Orleans. Here’s part II of their interview.
Video and Editing By Josh Parr, Nicolette Schleisman and Kassi Schmitt
The NOLA Now team spent Sunday morning with Abdulrahman Zeitoun as he drove us around the city and explained his experiences from the book ‘Zeitoun.’ Specific places we visited were the house where he fed the dogs every day, the house on Claiborne where he was arrested, and Camp Greyhound where Zeitoun was taken and held for three days under miserable conditions. For more on Zeitoun’s experience read Josh Parr’s story in Wednesday’s Daily Campus.
Video and editing by Josh Parr, Nicolette Schleisman and Kassi Schmitt
Zeitoun takes us on a tour of the events in the first year common reading book: Zeitoun.
Posted by Kassi Schmitt
Exactly 1,825 days ago on August 29, 2005, the lives of thousands of people were changed drastically. Five years later, New Orleans still remains greatly affected by Hurricane Katrina even though many parts of the city have been rebuilt and restored.
After spending almost two days exploring the streets of downtown New Orleans, the Ninth Ward and talking to people that came from all sorts of background, one thing was strongly apparent: the pride and love the citizens of NOLA have for their city. Even though many people lost everything- their homes, possesions, pets, family and friends- they all felt such a strong sense of pride for their city that they happily came back to start from scratch. And when asked if this same situation occured again if they would return and rebuild, many replied that they would without a doubt.
We all felt honored to be able to see and speak to many of the residents of New Orleans five years later. Although it was apparent that the city had rebuilt and grown stronger in many ways, there is also so much work that still needs to be done. Homes are still destroyed and abandoned and businesses everywhere have been shut down and boarded up. But what the city may have lost from the storm is made up for in the morale and love its residents have for their city. They all kept telling us that this city was home and without it, they wouldn’t be who they are today.
Even though we talked to so many people, I feel that we were barely able to skim the surface of the ways that the lives of New Orleanians were affected and how they are doing now. There were so many stories within the walls of the city.
As we hit the road and head back to Dallas, we return with the satisfaction of knowing that we can take just a little slice of what NOLA has to offer five years after one of the most devastating storms and share it with others.
Posted by Sarah Bray
This is just one of the many memorials and messages that still stands five years later. This particular one sits on a vacant lot in the Lower Ninth Ward in close proximity to the levees. The creator of the sign begins the handwritten message with his full name, phone number and email address.
Just below in what looks to be permanent marker, reads: Joyce Holda Green, US Citizen November 9th. 1931 to August 29th, 2005, 2.5 years in the U.S. Airforce and then just below a Shanai “Nai Nai” Green April 11, 2002 to August 29, 2005 – a child just four years old.
A message spans the bottom of the sign reading: “We want our country to love us as much as we love our country. The strength of our country belongs to us all. Mr. Bush please rebuild New Orleans, The Lower 9th Ward, crosss the canal, Tennessee street. And in all caps: NOT IRAQ.”
Posted by Nicolette Schleisman
We ran into some volunteers from Red Cross who were handing out emergency kits to the residents in the area and decided to tag along with them for awhile. They explained how they were trying to advise residents of what to do if this situation were ever to occur again. We also got the opportunity to speak to a few of the residents and see how their lives had changed since the storm.
Posted by Kassi Schmitt
For our last night here, we decided to find a restaurant in the heart of New Orleans. We all took a step out of our comfort zones and even tried alligator for the first time (which surprisingly does taste a lot like chicken)! As we walked back along Bourbon Street and some of the other side streets to our hotel, we really got the chance to look around and see the truly diverse and original group of people that make up the heart and soul of New Orleans. It seems that everyone has their own story and contributes to what makes NOLA such a strong and proud city in their own unique way. We even got the opportunity to speak to a tarot card reader, Elizabeth. After Hayley sat down with her to see what her future has in store (and her future does indeed have a positive outlook- Elizabeth predicted Hayley would be very successful and makes lots of money), she told us her heart wrenching story of how she survived on $20 and one tank of gas after Katrina hit.
Our NOLA Now travelers interviewed Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the main character of the first-year common reading, and his wife Kathy at the couple’s New Orleans home. In this video, Daily Campus online editor Josh Parr gives a preview of the full interview, which will be posted later Sunday.
“With Katrina, I think everything happens for a purpose; I stayed here for a reason, I go to jail for a reason, everything God desired of me perfectly,” Zeitoun said.
Here’s reporter Kassi Schmitt’s take on the Zeitoun interview:
Our time is quickly winding down here as day two comes to a close. After our adventures in the 9th ward this morning, we headed over to a different neighborhood in NOLA to interview Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the man whose Hurricane Katrina story was the subject of this year’s freshman reading novel. The common reading novel for the incoming freshman was entitled Zeitoun and told the compelling tale of how he stayed behind after the storm hit and used a canoe to travel around the neighborhood he could so easily walk around in before. He talked about his experience the days following the storm and the time he was approached by two men with guns and taken to prison without being able to contact his wife. Zeitoun and his wife went through so much in such a short period of time, yet remained optimistic and hopeful throughout their whole experience. We spoke to them for almost two hours and sat at the edge of our seats for every minute of the interview.
Student reporter Josh Parr, online editor for The Daily Campus, checks in from the levees that flooded New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. You can see all of Josh’s video reports at The Daily Campus.
Want to see more New Orleans footage? Check out the rest of our NOLA Now blog or visit