A Creative Leap for New Orleans

When Hurricane Katrina slammed through the city of New Orleans during the summer of 2005, it shattered the very bones of this famously vibrant city and wrought unspeakable havoc on its amazingly loyal population. As a city whose echoes of homegrown jazz, blues, zydeco and a host of other native sounds were before the oft heard song of this sprawling town by the Mississippi River, now the need for help was a cry so loud and deep it seemed to reverberate around the world.

Anna Katherine Montgomery

January 21, 2016

Millions watched in horror as film crews depicted the city drowning in waves of displaced river, ocean and flood waters which had catapulted over the broken levees into the very heart of the city and beyond, carrying the rubble of destroyed buildings and homes, killing over a thousand people and displacing over a million. Imagine facing the consequences of the costliest natural disaster in American history ($81.2 billion/Wikipedia). How would this city, its people, and their culture be recovered, and who could help reverse the effects of a disaster of this magnitude? The American Red Cross led the way in answering the call, and when their own extraordinary efforts needed support, they reached out to George Washington University’s (GWU) Institute of Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management and to Creative Leaps International to give them the tools of resiliency they needed to face this crisis.

In the aftermath of this catastrophe, another crisis loomed. With accusations flying and people huddled in mass camps like survivors of an all out war, there was great controversy over the government’s ability to apprehend the situation in a swift and sure manner. Care poured in from multiple avenues as the National Guard, Special Response Teams, and scores of volunteers from universities, churches and special care teams arrived to sift through the horror. Yet, the city was broken on every level, and is still recovering today. While the exiles of a city that was 80% underwater are slowly returning, its heart is still battered, and the culture is in danger of extinction, a culture that is truly one of a kind as an indigenous spirit of joy, fusion, and hope.

Heroes have been needed.

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