Two Years Later, New Orleans Inches Back

Katrina still casts shadow over city, its population and U.S. politics.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:11 AM

Aug. 26, 2007 — -- On Sunday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said President Bush has failed to live up to the promises he made to rebuild the city.

Nagin told ABC News he plans to bring that up with the president when Bush arrives in the city on Wednesday.

The major Democratic candidates running for the White House also will be in New Orleans this week, including Barack Obama, who arrived Sunday. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards arrive on Monday.

The major Republican candidates are staying away.

"World News" will be anchored live from New Orleans on Sunday, and ABC News continues its coverage on all broadcasts through the anniversary of Katrina on Wednesday.

Two years after Katrina, New Orleans has come a long way, but it has a long way still to go.

New Orleans shrank to less than half its original population after the storm. Today two thirds of the population is back, but some neighborhoods are still ghost towns.

Fewer than 1,000 people have returned to the devastated Lower Ninth Ward, where 19,000 people lived before the storm, although the city says it has now removed 100 percent of the debris left by the storm.

"World News" Sunday reports on the challenges faced by the few families who have moved back to the Lower Ninth Ward. Check your local listings for air time.

Tourist dollars are once again flowing into the city. Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest this year brought in an estimated 75 percent of what they did before the storm.

And the city has made steady progress rebuilding its infrastructure. Eighty-three of the city's 128 public schools are open again, as are 11 of the area's 16 acute care hospitals. All eight of the city's police stations are, although two are still operating out of FEMA trailers. City officials say trash is now being collected twice daily throughout the city and buses are running on most routes.

New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation even before Katrina, and has not gotten safer. There have been 154 murders so far this year, a murder rate 15 times that of New York City. Of the 161 murders last year, there was only one conviction.