ABC News' Bob Woodruff Reflects on Covering Katrina 10 Years Later

ABC News' Bob Woodruff revisits the communities and people he covered in the days, months, and years after the historic hurricane.
14:16 | 08/28/15

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Transcript for ABC News' Bob Woodruff Reflects on Covering Katrina 10 Years Later
Now Bob Woodruff right here in New Orleans I gotta tie this it's unbelievable that this is coming up on the tenth anniversary. Katrina this hurricane to slap your swept through this town. Believe it's on Saturday as August 29 2005 were all this began. But it's I want thing before I talk about what we went through it at that moment but the president president bombers coming here today. And he just looked right out there you can see there's a ship that just pulled up about five minutes ago. With a machine gun at the very front of it we can only assume that is because that the police is countess of security. In this area. But this is where it began as the and industrial canal. When that water came in on that day it swept right over these these levees. And this is the neighborhood let me show you this that's there's the levees to go down here to the other side. This is rebuilt it's much taller and much stronger than it was before when this catastrophe happen. But this is the neighborhood this is the Ninth Ward which was absolutely destroyed these houses that you see right here. Those were gone the last time I was here and two did ten years ago now they've been rebuilt Brad Pitt actually has. A a group that's now rebuilding this you can see that they got. That the get solar panels on the on the top they're trying to do their green build these things more efficiently that can last longer that's the hope. So this is changing but let me tell you the story back in August when he night at that time when this came. What I was here the water was at the top of those roofs. So what we did is we hired a a guy with a boat. To try to see this neighborhood which was flooded. If you want to look over here this is this is the bridge that comes from downtown New Orleans and I'll never forget coming down and there's that we had a trailer with a vote on it. And we had to stop that just at the very lower part of this bridge over here and get out of this get out of them out of the car and get in the boat. And this is what I got very emotional. For all of us because what we saw was absolutely stunning. We took the boat out onto the streets. We literally saw. Some dead bodies floating around here in the Ninth Ward which is the one that was the worst of all of the places. And those bodies are floated around no one was there to pick them up we'll never forget in that boat we saw almost. Nobody. And were screaming out. Is anybody here and it wasn't no response the only person we saw. That day was one guy in his in his boat is paddling around trying to find of his friends or neighbors in their houses and get them out. There was a dog that we saw on the top of one of the roofs. And nobody was there to get him either in fact we heard we found out later that the dogs were the last priority. Those that did come by the officials that came by to try to get people out of their houses and some kind of place ticket they capability they were not concentrating on the dogs because they were last in line to try to get the people. So after that when I got out of we got out of these streets. We handed down that the conventions that are. We drove in from outside the city in the bridge. As we are pouring in the journalists the others. Which trying to get out. They're walking if they could walk. None of them were driving because they didn't. Have any vehicles that could make it through the floods. But we headed and a and the first stop was the conventions and are. And this was not the official refugee senator they were told this is not the official place to be. But I don't know the numbers but maybe thousands of people what their outside sleeping on the streets sleeping on the inside. And we came up and videotaping them and interviewing them they were school reading with anger. They were not getting any water they're not getting any food they felt it was really know care and care giving it all from the government. And again. They were probably about three or four dead bodies at saw in the convention center itself. One of them in a wheelchair with a blanket over the top of the fact that Arnold was it was a him or aren't locked on the inside but it is thought that this was. Pretty stunning. So after the convention senator. We moved onto. To the S this the superdome. The superdome was the official. Refugee center for those that came out it was the place that was finally the emergency spot at this got. As bad as it became and so this the mayor and the governor said this is going to be the spot. And that was completely filled. So we want them and interviewed some of the people and again the anger was chest global it was absolutely deep. And I'll never forget there was this little to were mobile ten year old girl named Erica. And we interviewed her and imagine a ten year old telling you stories about how she was afraid for her life she thought there were dangerous people watching her. She had her mother their weather but wasn't enough. And she so. Energetic about it she told us how. She didn't eat the food. She said the water was too hot. The sheets with her foot she's just tap like this on the turf alone she says has filled with. Does your own head now because people been there so long. That apparently the the toilets had over flown flowed and and they were there out on this. On this football sealed. It all talk and a second about how this ten. Now the city has turned around and one of them of course was that dome there was there was a there were holes in the roof I'll never. Never forget this beam of light that came through right on to the turf. It was remarkable films like like a symbol like this. Like a scene you'd never expect it almost covering coming down from heaven. It was health. But it was later on that this that the saints which were not a very good team even leading into this in the ultimate became. The Super Bowl that was another one the people looked at as he was a gift from. Gift from above this the teams a chance to that lead to recover for recovery for this in this city. We're getting out of there this out of the superdome. Again nobody was really. There are you took a long time before the police really hit the streets to try to. To control the violence there was a slight amount of violence people talk about how does a lot of shooting but I didn't really hear much and others one. Time when I did hear some gunfire the police found McCain man the National Guard eventually came in. But here's another one that was really shocking to me. As a Walken out one of the streets. There was a man from that neighborhood. With a shovel. Digging one of the yards. The dirt. In the front of this house is actually really a plot that field. And he's taken this dirt and throwing it on the top of body. A woman in their seventies or eighties. Who'd been lying on the street. Of New Orleans one of America's biggest most important cities that lying there dead for four days no one came to getter. So he was in tears. Name was John Lee. And he buried this. And created almost a memorial. For her covered it with rocks on the outside of it. We talked him he was in tears he finally asked us please please go. Please go we had a chance to talk to him yesterday again after these ten years and he conceded. That still moves him. Now there's a little shrine that has been created. Her name was era. One of the neighbors new her and now her name is on the wall of one of the new buildings in exact and that's spot. Where her body was lying. And it's pretty emotional. But it's also a city that is changing just that for example. That's spot we're here it died all those years ago is now been developed into a real advanced economic. Business area they said that the that the real estate values have. Multiplied. Huge he said in fact her house. Which is worth about 60000 dollars ten years ago he said is more like 35400000. Dollars now. So those that. Relatively more in this city cannot afford me in many ways to continue to live in these neighborhoods that they came from in the middle of of the city. But the economy is really coming back it was so much trouble. At that time nobody really assume that this would. Get back to the way it is now because this entire part. Via of the city was destroyed no one thought they'd ever moved back here again but it has get a lot gotten a lot better there was that the blast numbers we saws and 2013 they determined that about. About a 100000 blacks had left the city. About 111000 whites has left this city so there has been a sort of a racial shift. The demography has changed. So you see the country's changing that way as well. You're the president is here to to talk about this he of course this is part of his political. Career when he was running. For. For president he talked about the fact that this was not caused. In the real mate by nature this is created by faults within the government. And that that's the reason why this water ripped through the levees here was because they were not properly built and they're not properly remind. Reminded of exactly what's what needs to prepared for it. What was gonna happen so the quest in all these neighborhoods. We saw a couple who grew up here they are in their late mid sixties. And they were out for ten years. Now they're rebuilding their house here they got some federal money for and put a lot of it they said it was just. Out of their coffee cans the money they've been saving for all these years they decided on the comeback. And back to that would put all of their other neighbors around them they're gone they're not gonna come back. But that's their hope is that could somehow get back here and I said do you think there's another chance. That you're gonna get hit by another hurricane in the levees will go over in this same neighborhood which is vulnerable would be destroyed again they said absolutely. Not. And even if it did we don't care we want to come back and that says something about the city of people don't want to leave but a lot of them have. Lot of them have left. We shall tell you about the story but Erica that ten year old girl that was there in on the turf in that superdome. Ten years ago. It's kind of a miraculous story it's an inspiring story that she was from a family with a lot of difficulties she was. Herb one of her sisters which is two years old was was killed in a murder. Her mother gone through a lot of problems. But now she's in the city where her life was not going well at all but because of this hurricane she like so many others left and went to Houston. As he told me that in some ways that was a good thing not only the thing that she went. But because of that maybe is a good thing that this hurricane hit this Tom because they're completely to renovate. To change everything and a life. So we find out yesterday we try to tracker down as you so adorable so inspiring at that time. Now she is an honor student at a university Houston university right there in that town. As she says when she graduates was only about a year from now she's gonna go on to become a minister seminaries gonna go to when she wants she says who wants to serve as she. She said that you know something there's things that happen to you that as bad. Is bad. But the thing is when things that happened to you that are bad can give you the desire to help others and do good things and that. No it gets to your heart that this thing to some degree. Has some good sides to it. And they say that the city is actually better in many ways the education system which was a disaster. Has now been recovered two to a large degree. No other money is now back it's they think that it's going to be environmentally more addressing issues that are here. But I did have a chance to talk to the governor Jindal a couple years ago about the environmental issues here and this place could. They could lose a lot of land here which has been happening for years has the of the melting of the the Arctic and of course the rising sea. With global warming they could actually lose a lot of land out here unless they change. How they deal. The ones that are further idea they've they've actually done a lot with the environment here and it changed the way the big deal with the the the ground and try to protect the city itself but it's also. Change the way that that the natural flow of the river south something needs to be done on that. But I have to tell you all that this good to be back here eight to ten years after this this thing happened. Is such a mat a major change. Brian Hartman had a great producers here with man enough to get me thoughts about this too good. There's a lot that is to say. I think we pretty much covered most of it. And this is this is moving this is really moving minute I recommend that related have a chance to come down in New Orleans and see this place as it is a different country. A different city and say. I want to get back. It's a lot of on the music the music industry is also comeback that was one almost all of these musicians had to flee. Now they come back and in some ways they say because there's more money here that the economy has recovered that they actually getting paid a little bit more so maybe the music industry is a little bit better. It was before and you know what. The food. It's awesome and always has been and always will be. So this is New Orleans on its on its recovery path and I think it's going pretty well I think it's my recommendation of ideas come down and see this place. When you can write here New Orleans. It's about what for ABC news it's wanted to idea. Come on down. And Steven you know it's.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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