Grassroots recovery groups cite continued needs post-Katrina


by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

Posted on September 26, 2010 at 7:15 PM

In Lakeview, there are pictures of normalcy, signs of progress and reminders of devastation - all rolled in to a community that has seen a great deal of change in the past five years.

"We got a lot of residents moving back and we've got a lot of new houses going up," said Rosemary Broussard of Lakeview.

Post-storm, demographers said the number of people living in Lakeview has been steadily rising-- now standing at three-fourths of its pre-storm population.

"People who are here want to be here," said demographer Greg Rigamer, of GCR & Associates.

The rebuilding of Lakeview literally sprung from the ground up. Several grassroots organizations took root post-storm: neighbors helping neighbors determined to come back. One of those groups was the Beacon of Hope Resource Center. After the storm, it became a model for communities across the nation, as an example of how to bring back a community after a disaster. Five years post-Katrina, its founders say their effort is still needed.

"We still have some residents lack just the painting or the landscaping," said Tina Marquardt, of Beacon of Hope. "You know, those finishing touches that really made it feel like home."

Beacon of Hope currently has about 200-work order requests. They say it is a sign that their work is far from done. There may be more to come, too: about 200 former Road Home properties were recently sold in the area and work may be needed on those as well.

"They're going to see a significant increase in the next year or so, with those 200, because there is a 12-month criteria that they have to start rebuilding," Marquardt said. "So, we'll be ready for those folks just in case they need some help."

Even with the progress, problems remain, as some abandoned homes dot the landscape and basic infrastructure is in need of repair.

"We're basically focusing on the roads, trying to fix up the roads and the infrastructure a little more," Broussard said. "We still have a little bit of blight around and we're trying to get those last few houses to work on it, tear it down, sell it-- do something."

It's work that is meant to improve a neighborhood, and, in the end, it could signal a change among its neighbors.

"We're getting lots and lots of new families," Broussard said.

"I see Lakeview with probably be a little more of a younger community," Marquardt said.
A community that has now been redefined, out of necessity.