Hurricane Katrina

Daily obstructions bog down residents

NEW ORLEANS — For those who are staying, and who are trying to rebuild, daily life can be a source of annoyances, small and large.

At a FEMA trailer camp near St. Roch's cemetery in New Orleans, a mobile clinic rolled to a stop. Keisha Green dashed to its door, her family in tow.

"I need help," she told a nurse aboard the clinic, operated by St. Anna's Episcopal Church. Green's 14-year-old son needed treatment for an asthma flare-up and a foot rash. Her mother was overdue for blood-pressure and blood-sugar checks. Her aunt's headaches wouldn't stop.

Before Katrina, Green's family had counted on Charity Hospital. But it's gone - destroyed and not rebuilt - as are hundreds of city doctors.

These days, the Green family gets up at 4 a.m. and stands outside another clinic, run by Operation Blessing; fewer than 100 patients in the first-come-first-served line will be seen on any given day.

Beyond medical establishments, New Orleanians must contend with the loss of public schools (only 29 percent are open), bus routes (only 49 percent are operating) and child-care centers (only 23 percent are open), according to an index of Katrina statistics compiled by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Everybody has insurance hassles to deal with or FEMA stories to tell.

Mary and Jack Badinger, for example, are still begging FEMA for a trailer to replace their home in St. Bernard Parish.

"My husband applied in September and we've called every two weeks," Mary Badinger said.

On the other side of New Orleans, in the suburb of Kenner, Shountiliz Williams can't get rid of a trailer that FEMA delivered last November.

"We've been calling FEMA every day since May," Williams said. "My husband even offered to have it moved himself if they would tell him where to bring it."

So far, FEMA has provided more than 100,000 trailers to families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which hit the area four weeks after Katrina. Another 10,000 Louisiana families are still waiting for trailers, often because of problems with utilities or site access, according to FEMA's New Orleans office. A complication in the Badingers' case is that Mary Badinger is blind and may need special equipment. FEMA recently contracted with additional companies to pick up the pace of delivering and removing trailers.

Even things that have nothing to do with FEMA or the hassles of rebuilding have changed the lives of Katrina's victims in small ways. Emma Suggs, 44, lives in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, and she's on edge during the latest hurricane season.

"For one thing, I'm emptying my freezer," she said.

Suggs never again wants to see maggots like the ones that invaded her freezer during the weeks her family's house stood without power last fall. She never again wants to experience the stench of rotten shrimp.

Her freezer is spotless.


PART ONE: Life can be bleak or hopeful PART TWO: Survivors struggle to learn fates of loved ones PART THREE: Spirit of community wiped out PART FOUR: Daily obstructions bog down residents PART FIVE: Citizens pressured to rebuild or demolish HOUSTON: Home for 10,000 displaced survivors NEIGHBORHOODS: Some areas seem irreparable HEALTH: Mental health epidemic afflicts thousands MORE: Full Katrina anniversary coverage