The spray-painted X marks from the search-and-rescue teams still mar the dilapidated buildings where the bodies of people, dogs, cats and even chickens were found in Hurricane Katrina’s wake.
But new schools, homes, businesses and clinics rise here and there from empty lots in scarred neighborhoods. The city’s population has grown to 80 percent of pre-Katrina levels. And the Super Dome is now known as the home of the new Super Bowl champion Saints — not a sad and befouled refuge of last resort.
More than four years after it became modern America’s largest disaster, New Orleans is a city of contrasts that serves as a living lesson of do’s-and-don’ts to its distant and shattered Creole cousin of Port-au-Prince: rebuilding is slow, painful, expensive, dynamic — and a marvel for those who stay.