Reflections on Hurricane Katrina 5 Years Later

To truly appreciate how much the Gulf Coast has come back from Hurricane Katrina, you have to look again at how much damage was done five years ago, reports CBS News Early Show anchor Harry Smith.

Katrina did its worst damage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. If it was on or near the shore, it was destroyed -- or nearly so. Next door in Louisiana, folks in New Orleans honestly thought they'd survived the storm. But then, the levees failed.

Complete Coverage: Katrina Five Years Later
Hurricane Katrina: 5 Years Later

There ensued a kind of misery that made people weep. A world of hurt had descended on a city already wounded by decades of poverty and corruption. Katrina opened a new sore that festered on TV, while a country watched.

Where's the cavalry, we wondered.

What followed was a kind of pathetic fiasco. FEMA became a four-letter word.

People wondered if the city would survive. Some debated if it should.

Within weeks though, New Orleans and the Mississippi coast were met with another surge - a new flood of volunteers. People and plywood poured in from all over.

There were new schools and talk of new beginnings. New levees and flood walls. But, no less distrust of the corps that built them.

Some neighborhoods bounced back, yet some still languish. If it was an equal opportunity story. Some think the recovery has been less so.

Still there is a spirit down here that didn't exist before Katrina symbolized by the once hapless Saints winning the Superbowl.

They say that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Folks who survived Katrina are proud. They have weathered the test of a lifetime.