Katrina anniversary brings bittersweet memories to valley residents

FRESNO, Calif.

For those who suffered the wrath of Katrina, the painful memories persist. And going home is easier said than done.

Downtown New Orleans and Bourbon Street show signs of life but many gulf coast neighborhoods still don't show signs of recovery.

Colin and Vera Slater never thought they'd still be living in the valley five years after Katrina. Colin Slater said, "Actually we thought we'd be home in a year. Then we thought we'd be home in two years."

Vera Slater now works in the Fresno County Ag Department. When she left her job at Tulane University, the stadium was filled with water.

A local developer offered the family a Clovis home free for 18 months to help get re-settled.

Slater said, "We're happy that people here have extended themselves greatly to help us out but it still not home. I wish I could go home."

For Allysunn Williams of Fresno, the memories of Katrina are bittersweet.

Allysunn and her ex-husband housed fifteen relatives who were left homeless by the hurricane. Williams explained, "My household went from four to 19 over a three-day period but it was wonderful in lot of ways. Very challenging in others because they were so traumatized."

Williams was stunned by the community support. Money, clothes and food was donated while displaced family members stayed with her in Fresno for three months.

Action News was there when they returned to Kenner, Louisiana in November of 2006.

Williams said, "Unfortunately, not much has changed in the neighborhood. Very difficult poverty. You've got neighborhoods that have not been re-developed. A lot of people have not moved back. The debris hasn't been removed in certain areas. Unfortunately it's been five years but it hasn't been five years of progress."

Colin Slater says his kids still long for New Orleans. Upon graduation, his daughter wants to go back and attend Dillard University.

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