Image from here: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/katrina-anniversary-photos-460910
The last time David and I were in New Orleans was February 2005, about 7 months prior to Katrina. I remember watching the news in relief when it appeared that New Orleans had been mostly spared the worst of it. The next day, the news was vastly different. The city was hit, the levees were failing. 80% of the city was flooded. The images and video that came out of New Orleans in the following days and weeks was horrific and haunting. It was difficult to believe what was happening. Impossible to think it was on American soil.
It has been just over five years. The people affected no longer appear on the news. It's faded from our memories and thoughts. To visit the French Quarter, you could imagine that it never happened. Shops carry bumper stickers that read "I drove my Chevy to the leveee, but the levee was gone." One restaurant had a door hanging on the wall with the too-familiar X noting who had checked the house for people - living or dead - and the results of the search, but it could have been just art. Bookstores carried books written about it - 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina and Not Left Behind. Without those few reminders, it would be easy to pretend that happened somewhere else.
If you leave the Quarter and venture very far away, just blocks really, the evidence it still there five years later. Bright shiny new houses, built on stilts a few feet off the ground. Between the new houses, hollow shells of homes that haven't been lived in since Katrina, still decorated by the markings left by those searching for people and for bodies.