Emily Bhatti is Oxfam America’s Media Relations Coordinator
On my first visit to New Orleans, I arrived with over 150,000 visitors, football fans, and Mardi Gras party goers. The Super Bowl drew the eyes of the nation to this city in southern Louisiana, but most paid little attention to the ongoing struggles of the area’s long-suffering residents.
New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region are no strangers to disasters; from Hurricane Katrina, to Hurricane Rita, the BP oil spill, and the most recent Hurricane Isaac, this region has seen its fair share of struggles. Oxfam America has been working in the Gulf Coast since before Katrina and with our local partners we have fought to not only restore the area but better prepare it for future disasters.
It would have been easy for me to go along with the party in the Big Easy, throw on some beads, order a big plate of crawfish, listen to the music, and have a good time. But I knew what many of the other party goers didn’t know: There is still work to be done.
Completely different world
So instead I went to Plaquemines Parish, where I was soon in a completely different world. The level of destruction was staggering; from boats floating on fields of grass, to vacant homes and silent streets. During Hurricane Isaac in August 2012 flood waters rose almost 14 feet in some areas, damaging hundreds of homes and displacing many.