This month we will remember the ten year anniversary of one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in history. Hurricane Katrina made landfall in south east Louisiana and Mississippi on August 29, 2005 followed by Hurricane Rita’s devastation of the southwest coast of Louisiana and eastern Texas on September 24, 2005. Katrina left 1,464 residents dead and more than 200,000 homes destroyed. Eighty percent of New Orleans was under water and the southern parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson and St. Tammany received major wind and storm surge damage. Rita reeked similar havoc to the west, with Cameron, Calcasieu and Vermillion Parishes suffering major loss of homes and infrastructure. Katrina remains the costliest natural disaster in US History, with damage estimates of $108 Billion.
Ten years later, through federal funding, private investment and local incentives, South Louisiana has rebuilt itself, and Jones Walker’s Affordable Housing Team played an integral role in the process. HUD invested over $13.4 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds with the State of Louisiana based on its Action Plan termed “The Road Home.” Jones Walker was selected to serve as legal counsel to the Road Home consultants and housing specialists, and has worked with the team ever since the storm to develop and implement the Piggyback Loan Program.
Through our representation, the Jones Walker Housing Team contributed to bringing New Orleans back from Katrina, closing loans for projects that produced:
- over 7,000 newly constructed or rehabilitated affordable and mixed income units
- over 60 multifamily housing projects across 9 parishes
- rehabilitation of over 130,000 single family homes
- tens of thousands of square feet of accompanying retail and commercial space
New Orleans has reclaimed itself as one of the largest 50 cities in the US, and a walk through New Orleans neighborhoods reveals fresh paint, energy efficient buildings, and creative spaces that fit the city’s residents. While nothing can replace the destroyed lives and heartache of the 2005 Hurricane Season, the new rooftops and freshly planted lawns that have appeared continuously over that time are evidence that the State’s people have a resilience that is stronger than any Category 5.