What Not to Do in New Orleans
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FORGET THE HIDDEN SCARS OF KATRINA
In many ways, the city has rebounded since the deadly levee failures associated with 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Most tourist zones weren't ravaged by rising floodwaters, but many neighborhoods that were decimated haven't bounced back quickly. If you're tempted to say, "It doesn't seem that bad to me," out loud, resist the urge. Even as New Orleans has put a strong face on the hard work of recovery, there are many tragic human stories that are still playing out—relatives unable to return home, people mourning storm-related deaths—in the extended aftermath.
VOLUNTEER AND LISTEN TO THE LOCALS' STORIES
Since the floods of Katrina, plenty of visitors have come to the city looking to volunteer a bit of their time to the city's rebuilding efforts. In the hardest-hit neighborhoods, there's still plenty to be done, from gutting homes that filled with silty water to helping with new construction. Interested parties should contact Habitat for Humanity for a roster of active projects or Hands On New Orleans for other volunteer opportunities.
Even if your schedule doesn't allow a full-scale workday, ask a local about their post-storm experience and listen to the tragic history of the event in the place where it happened. You've got a better-than-average chance of hearing a tale that will make you appreciate New Orleans that much more than the folks boozing it up on Bourbon.