NEW ORLEANS - It's hard to forget the images of New Orleans under water more than seven years ago, but officials hope hosting a Super Bowl will show people how far the city has come after Hurricane Katrina.
The crowd continued to grow on Bourbon Street Thursday night as Super Bowl XLVII approaches.
“We're having such a good time. Super Bowl is it baby! Let's have an excellent, excellent time!” cheered Dallas resident "Crazy" Ray.
But even as visitors party in the streets, a recent CBS News poll shows more than half of Americans believe New Orleans has a ways to go in its recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
“What we see here is only one part of the city. It's not all that it is. I imagine people who are still suffering and trying to recover and who have lost their houses are not necessarily celebrating in the streets tonight. I hope that some of what we do and some of the money we put in the economy here is going to help them,” said Mary Blais, a visitor from New Brunswick, Canada.
According to the poll, 51 percent of Americans don't believe New Orleans has mostly recovered from Hurricane Katrina, compared to 36 percent who believe that it has.
Still, 71 percent of those polled are optimistic about the city's future.
The telephone poll of more than 1,050 adults was conducted between Jan. 24 and Jan. 27.
“My sense is if that poll was taken next week or if it's taken a week after the Super Bowl, those numbers would be much higher,” said Mark Romig, public relations co-chair for the Super Bowl Host Committee.
“The reality is, certainly there's always more work to do, but for the NFL to have put the Super Bowl here in the city of New Orleans speaks legions about whether the city has recovered enough to host the major event in the United States.”
Indeed, there are more restaurants and hotel rooms in New Orleans post-Katrina. There's better storm protection than ever before. And the city continues to sink billions of local, state, and federal dollars into new construction.
But some hard-hit neighborhoods, like the Lower Ninth Ward, still have dozens of blighted homes, no grocery store and just one school.
“The mayor and others have said, yes, the Lower Ninth Ward will be the beacon for recovery. We're saying, when? When is it going to happen?” said Vanessa Gueringer, community activist and vice president of A Community Voice.
Officials say the city is working on it. They’re planning to break ground soon on a new fire station and community center. They’re also building a new high school.
Still, they admit there's a lot of work to be done.
“We're doing everything we can from the city's perspective to make sure the entire city recovers as quickly as possible,” said city spokesman Ryan Berni.
Something else the poll reveals? Sixty-four percent of Americans have a good image of New Orleans. Still, that's down from 72 percent in 2010.
Click here to see the full results of the poll.