Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levees protecting the region unleashed an unprecedented disaster upon one of America's most charismatic cities. Hurricane Rita quickly followed, with Hurricanes Ike, Gustav and Isaac causing additional extensive damage in subsequent years. Punctuating the damage wrought by these storms was the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 workers and caused immense additional injury to the natural systems and communities in coastal Louisiana and beyond. This cavalcade of disasters catapulted the region into the national spotlight, prompting questions about whether and how New Orleans could or even should rebuild. But, as has been demonstrated repeatedly over the city's nearly 300-year history, the communities of the Greater New Orleans region have shown phenomenal resilience, adaptive capacity and a commitment to once again building back better than before. Working as a partner to community members and policy-makers, philanthropy has and can continue to play a positive role in that path forward.
This paper serves to set the context of how New Orleans has made progress in some key areas over the past decade, and to invite you to join a conversation about the work we recognize remains to be done. We want to use this moment of reflection together to lift up aspects of what has gone well in the months and years since the storms shone a spotlight on the people of Greater New Orleans, learn from what mistakes were made and assess what opportunities were missed. We recognize that there is not unanimous agreement about these successes and failures, but we invite all perspectives into conversations. Most importantly, we want to look to do better, together, as we tackle the challenges on the road ahead.