Today New Orleans residents commemorated the eighth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with events around the city, remembering the more than 1,800 people who died and the destruction it caused.  The hurricane that devastated the city eight years ago continues to be a daily reality for those still living there. 

But the Associated Press reports that 80 percent of the pre-storm population has returned to the city, and new business development 
is on the rise. New Orleans appears to be on the rebound and residents who chose to stay or have returned are working hard to revitalize the city.

Current residents of one of the hardest-hit areas in the Lower Ninth Ward have been struggling with lack of access to grocery stores, and responded by creating a network of community gardens to provide residents with fresh produce. 

And young people in New Orleans now have a say in how their education system is rebuilt thanks to Kids Rethink New Orleans project.

Storytelling and community building continue to be important tools for helping residents cope with the past and rebuild their lives. One of projects to emerge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is the “Land of Opportunity,” a film project that developed an interactive platform for Katrina survivors to share their experiences. The project is teaming up with Sandy Storyline, a documentary project focusing on Hurricane Sandy in New York, to build ties between these recovery efforts.  

Land of Opportunity — Trailer from Land of Opportunity on Vimeo.

These are just a few of the projects in the works to bring back “The Big Easy.” It’s clear there’s still work to be done, but the people of New Orleans seem strongly committed to creating innovative models for rebuilding their beloved city.