Life's OK -- 'But it's Not New Orleans'

Michael and Melinda McPherson lost their home in New Orleans to Hurricane Katrina and are living in a bare bones Indianapolis apartment furnished with only donated items.

"We had nothing but the clothes on our backs we came up with," Michael McPherson said.

Two million people were displaced by Katrina. They've landed in almost every state and half the New Orleans population has still not returned.

The McPhersons survived the horror and anarchy of the Superdome and finally met "Joe," who picked them up in his pickup truck while they were walking west. They took a leap of faith and headed to Indiana.

Word spread quickly that Covered Bridge Apartments in Indianapolis would give evacuees two months free rent. Many took the offer and, at one point, half the apartments were filled with Katrina victims who were overwhelmed by the generosity of their new neighbors.

"You could feel the love in these people," said Anna Malson, who fled Katrina. "Not only were they giving us stuff … but they wanted to help us. It's like they kind of felt our pain."

But the pain still persists.

"[I] don't have a job; don't have any money," said Deborah Ledoux, formerly of New Orleans. "We have to wash our clothes in a bucket in the bathtub, and it's just hard. We don't have any transportation to look for a job."

There Is No Place Like Home

If she could, Ledoux would return to New Orleans in a heartbeat.

"I miss culture, food, architecture, Mardi Gras," she said. "People in Indianapolis have been real nice to us -- but it's not New Orleans."

Vera Triplett explained the pain of being forced from home as she paid a visit to the place in New Orleans where she once lived.

"This used to be my living room," Triplett said. "That was our dining room. Just imagine that my daughter took her first baby steps right here. The only way I knew where it was, my kitchen, was the color of the walls.

"It was like a bomb going off in your refrigerator," she added of the situation she found in her kitchen. "You open the door and everything's everywhere. That's what it looked like."

Triplett's home was under 10 feet of water for two weeks. She lost everything from baby pictures to home videos, but she and her family hope to be living in the house again by April.

"The city will come back because the spirit of New Orleans will not let it die," she said. "These people love this city. The people who are from here, who grew up here, they are not going anywhere They may be displaced for right now but they are coming back."