Only a fifth of the city's population of half a million has returned, most to areas that did not suffer flood damage and where services have been restored.A man living in the Ninth Ward:
Fewer than half of the city's fire stations are fully up and running. Concern over the department's response capabilities has made some insurance companies reluctant to extend policies to New Orleans homebuyers.
The ranks of the police force, its reputation sullied when officers were accused of looting and desertion in the post-Katrina chaos, have thinned.
Only about 200 hospital beds are available, leaving patients waiting an average of three hours in ambulances before they can be moved inside to emergency rooms, according to the mayor's office.
"I like to leave signs like I'm living here. I'm just hoping police see it and know there's somebody living here," he said. "I pray hard every night, and I keep a gun loaded. It's sad to say, but I have to do it."A man who won’t live in the Ninth Ward:
"I want to go back, but I'm scared," said Antoine Shropshire, a 41-year-old truck driver visiting his house in the Ninth Ward. "There's no people. It's creepy here. It's too weird.If our leaders wanted people to come back, conditions would not be like this. The United States of America has the resources to make New Orleans livable for those who want to rebuild. When we invaded Iraq, we set up all the services we are lacking here – temporary hospitals, fire prevention, security, utilities. If our leaders wanted those things down here, we would have them.
"You don't see anyone you know any more. If I sit too long, it brings tears when I think about what it'll take to get it back around."
I don’t think they want people back. I think they want everyone to stay out of the way while they decide what future New Orleans works best for them.
It can’t happen that way. We live here. The future New Orleans has to be the one that works best for us.
You can’t plan that. It has to evolve. In the course of living in an area, the plan that works evolves. Do you think the first settlers of New Orleans, if they had not stayed an entire year and seen where the river overflowed its banks, could have planned where the best place to build would be?
We are the new pioneers. We need to be down here, living in New Orleans, experiencing the new New Orleans, and coming up with the best plan that works for us. Let New Orleanians re-settle New Orleans.