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NOLA Now: Still Rebuilding


Posted By Kassi Schmitt

One of the destroyed homes in the 9th Ward. It lies in ruin five years after the hurricane. (PHOTO BY KASSI SCHMITT / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

One of the homes in the 9th Ward that has been rebuilt in a creative and environmentally friendly way. (PHOTO BY KASSI SCHMITT / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

We’ve been in New Orleans for 24 hours at this point and have already seen and heard so much. Today we headed to the Ninth Ward, one of the areas that suffered the greatest damage after the storm five years ago. Driving down the streets of the neighborhood, we saw the vast amount of destruction that was caused. Five years later, homes still stand abandoned and destroyed: roofs are collapsed in, windows shattered, garbage piled high and doors are boarded shut. Many families have not returned, leaving desolate and abandoned homes to stand on the block.

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.

One of the images that really stands out in my mind is the markings on the doors of the homes that have been abandoned. A red “X” is painted on the doors of the homes that the Coast Guard searched in the days after the storm, along with the date and the number of people or animals found in the home, dead or alive.

While many of the houses still stand in horrible condition, we did see the lighter end of the tunnel as well. As we drove around we came across a set of homes that had been rebuilt in a creative and environmentally friendly way. While walking down this street, we came across a mob of paparazzi standing outside one of the homes only to learn that Brad Pitt was inside conducting interviews. So we decided to stick it out in the rain for a bit hoping to snap a quick shot of him entering or leaving. But after nearly an hour, with soaking wet shirts and shoes, we decided to call it quits with no Brad Pitt sighting. (However, we did manage to see the New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees enter the house).

We’ve just come back to make a pit stop in the hotel to recharge cameras and eat a quick lunch before we head out once again! We have some very exciting interviews planned for this evening!

NOLA Now: No Brad in Sight from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Celebrity Sighting from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Photos of Recovery


Posted By Sarah Bray

Sarah Bray talks with Getty Image Photographer Mario Tama about his work in the Lower 9th Ward over the past five years since Hurricane Katrina.

NOLA Now: 9th Ward Photo Exhibit from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

While walking around the Lower 9th Ward I stopped at a hand-painted sign advertising a free photo exhibit in a gutted church destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I talked with Mario Tama, a Getty Image Photographer, about his work over the past 5 years since the storm.

NOLA Now: Heading Towards the Ninth Ward


Posted By Sarah Bray

Despite the harsh weather SMU journalism students Hayley Nelson and Sarah Bray head towards the Ninth Ward of New Orleans to speak with residents about  Hurricane Katrina.

NOLA Now: Hayley and Sarah Set Out for the Ninth Ward from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: The Rain Continues


Posted By Nicolette Schleisman and Kassi Schmitt

As day two begins in New Orleans, Nicolette Schleisman and Kassi Schmitt load up on rain gear to take to the rainy streets. The two are heading to the 9th Ward to speak to NOLA residents.

NOLA Now: The Rain Continues from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Residents’ Love Brings Restaurant Back to Carrollton Avenue


Audio slideshow by Hayley Nelson

Marvin Day has been a server at the famous Camellia Grill on Carrollton Avenue for 20 years. When Hurricane Katrina shut down the restaurant five years ago, he said it took the love of the community to bring it back.

Nola Now: Residents’ Love Brings Restaurant Back to Carrollton Avenue from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Want to see more New Orleans footage? Check out the rest of our NOLA Now blog or visit

NOLA Now: 82-year-old Charles Bookch says the New Orleans He Knew is ‘Gone’


Posted By Sarah Bray

New Orleans resident Charles Bookch, 82, speaks about Katrina’s impact to his lifelong hometown.

NOLA Now: 82-year-old Charles Bookch says New Orleans is “Gone” from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Want to see more New Orleans footage? Check out the rest of our NOLA Now blog or visit

NOLA Now: J-Students Greeted by ‘Who Dat’ Vibe


(PHOTO BY SARAH BRAY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Posted By Sarah Bray

Hayley and I had lunch at the famous Camellia Grill on Carlton Ave. There was no shortage of “who dat” pride in the diner, with cooks fist pumping behind the counter and a father and son matching in their Saints jerseys.

In between talking to diners about why they love the historic Carrolton Avenue hot spot, I took some time to focus on my food – precisely what Camellia Grill has been famous for since 1946.

The landmark Camellia Grill closed for nearly 20 months because of Hurricane Katrina. But after high demand and community support opened its doors in April 2007.

NOLA Now: Tasting New Orleans from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Want to see more New Orleans footage? Check out the rest of our NOLA Now blog or visit

NOLA Now: Finally Made It!


Posted by Kassi Schmitt

It’s a little after 3 p.m. and we just arrived at the Embassy Suites in downtown New Orleans. After spending 10 hours on the drive down, we were welcomed to the city by none other than rain. The torrential downpour, wind, lightning and thunder caused traffic to slow down to a halt for the last hour of our trip. But as we drove into the downtown area and passed the completely rebuilt Superdome, we couldn’t have been more excited to have finally arrived. We are getting settled and then taking it to the streets to bring everyone videos, photos and more of NOLA five years after Katrina.

Check The Daily Campus for more video clips from New Orleans!

NOLA Now: Students Set Off for Katrina Anniversary


Five SMU journalism students left the Hilltop before 4 a.m. this morning to report on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. (Video by Lucy Scott and editing by Andy Garcia)

NOLA Now: Students Set Off For Katrina Coverage from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

NOLA Now: Journalism Students Arrive in Louisiana


Posted By Elizabeth Lowe and Aida Ahmed

SMU journalism students have officially crossed the Louisiana state line and are expected to arrive in New Orleans later today. Students make a pit stop to unfold laptops, plug-in flip cams, and charge gear. Stay tuned to the Daily Mustang NOLA Now Blog for updates and footage throughout the weekend.

(SMU journalism students arrive at the Louisiana Border. They take a pit stop before they continue on to New orleans. (PHOTO BY SARAH BRAY / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

SMU Journalism students Joshua Parr and Hayley Nelson unload, grab breakfast and prepare for a weekend of live news coverage. (PHOTO BY SARAH BRAY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

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