Beyond Katrina: 7 Portraits of Grit and Determination | Nat Geo

Bass player Michael Harris and his son, Mike, in Musicians' Village, where 72 houses were built for musicians who became homeless after Hurricane Katrina. Photographs by William Widmer, National Geographic

People who live in New Orleans like to say that the city's fragility is what gives it its soul. Half of the city lies below sea level, and it perches precariously near an eroding coastline that loses a football field's worth of land every hour to the Gulf of Mexico. For nearly 300 years it has survived siege, epidemic, hurricane, and flood, and it will no doubt suffer more as seas rise and land disappears. Yet for those who live here, to live anywhere else is unthinkable.


In these seven portraits, New Orleanians retrace their road back from Hurricane Katrina to new beginnings in the place they love. They share persistence and optimism—good traits for people who choose to live on the edge.

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