Hurricane Katrina Tours in New Orleans
This post covers Hurricane Katrina tours, both guided and self-guided. Many people who visit New Orleans are interested in visiting areas that were affected by Hurricane Katrina, which stormed through in 2005 and to see the revitalization that has taken place since.
If you do not want to go on your own, there are several tour operators offering daily Katrina themed guided tours, including Gray Line New Orleans.
TIP: If you are looking to save money on New Orleans attractions, consider a tourist discount pass.
- Tour departs at 1 pm every day.
- Ticket prices as of 2018:
- $55 – Adult
- $31 – Child (6-12)
- Free – Children 5 and younger
- Get more information.
We have set up this self-guided tour so that you can use your car or bike to visit. Total time should be 2-3 hours by car and 5 hours by bike. Be sure to check out our full list of self-guided New Orleans tours.
A – The Presbytere 751 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA
The Presbytere is one of the State Museums that line Jackson Square in the French Quarter. The first floor of the museum holds a great family-friendly exhibit that gives a good outline to the days before and after hurricane Katrina. Interactive videos give people of all ages a good sense of what occurred during one of the most devastating natural disasters in the United States. Upstairs holds a Mardi Gras Museum as well.
B – Esplanade Ave.
After leaving the museum travel in your car towards the Lower Quarter and Esplanade Ave. Turn Left on Esplanade Ave. You will see the beautiful oak tree lined street. You are currently at some of the highest ground in New Orleans.
The Sliver By The River is the land that hugs the Mississippi River as it bends around the Crescent City. This land is typically 6 to 11 feet above sea level and is the highest ground above sea level in New Orleans.
If you decide to spend some time in this area, be sure to read our self-guided tour of Esplanade Ave. and Bayou St. John.
Continue on Esplanade Ave. to Claiborne, turn right.
C – Mid-City Yacht Club, 404 S Patrick Street New Orleans, LA 70119 (map)
Minutes from City Park, and not far from the Canal Streetcar, is the Mid-City Yacht Club, an eclectic neighborhood bar in the heart of Mid-City. Originally built as Savaggio’s Grocery Store in the mid-1930’s, it converted to a “bar only” establishment by the 1960’s.
After Hurricane Katrina left the bar (then known as Extra Innings) under several feet of water, it was nicknamed the Mid-City Yacht Club in jest – and a new establishment was born.
Using wood, doors, and materials from flooded and damaged houses, the building was rebuilt and opened in June 2007, and is a testimony to the resilience and determination of the people who call New Orleans, “home.”
MCYC is open 365 days a year for lunch and dinner – 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Monday – Friday, and 10:30 a.m. – 4 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. http://midcityyachtclub.com
From Mid City Yacht Club travel Northeast on St. Patrick St. turn left on Canal St. travel 3 blocks and the memorial will be on the left. to get to the 17th ST. Breach you will take Canal St. to Pontchartrain Blvd. Get on I-10 West exit 231B to Fleur De Lis Drive take Leslie Lane to Belair Dr.
D – Katrina Memorial 5056 Canal St bet. Botinelli Place and City Park Ave. (map)
The Katrina Memorial is nestled in the Charity Hospital cemetery. If traveling west on Canal Street it is on the left side of the street. Hurricane Katrina was a Category 5 storm when it entered the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana and Mississippi. It made landfall in New Orleans on Aug. 29th, 2005 around 6 am.
The memorial was dedicated three years to the day of the storm. Ultimately 1,464 people passed away during Katrina. The remains of 80 unclaimed victims reside inside of the memorial today. The 6 granite mausoleums structures are supposed to emulate the eye of a hurricane. Each of the individual’s remains was brought in a separate hearse.
Take Canal St to Pontchartrain Blvd for 1/2 a mile and get onto I-10 W. Take Exit 231B and West End Blvd to Bellaire Dr. Turn left onto Bellaire Drive.
E – 17th Street Canal Breach, Bellaire Dr & Stafford Pl, New Orleans, LA 70124 (map)
This canal, part of a larger system of canals that were built in the 1850s and 1860s, is the largest and considered the most important canal in New Orleans – with a capability of pumping 9,200 cubic feet of water/second into Lake Pontchartrain.
On August 29, 2005, a portion of the wall split open (one of 50 levee breaches that occurred), sending storm surge into the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans.
The breach, which extended to a 450 ft wide gap, destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, resulting in millions of dollars of property damage. Thirty-one bodies were also recovered from the area.
Check out this short video to see what the area around the 17th Street Canal breach looked like.
Head East on Stafford Place and turn Right on to Ponchartrain Blvd. Next, turn Left onto Filmore Ave. Stay on Filmore Ave for approximately 3 miles until you reach Warrington Dr. Turn Right onto Warrington Dr. Proceed on Warrington Dr. until you reach Wilton Dr. The Canal will be to your Left.
F – London Avenue Canal Breach, Warrington Dr & Wilton Dr, New Orleans, LA 70122 (map)
The London Avenue Canal breached on both sides of the levee and floodwall during Hurricane Katrina. The east side breach sent tons of sand and water into nearby homes, while the west breach flooded the Lake Vista neighborhood. Image to right courtesy of Levees.org.
Head South on Warrington Dr and turn Right onto Mirabeau Ave. Turn Left onto Paris Ave and drive for 1 ½ miles. Turn slightly Left to continue onto St Bernard Ave.
G – Claiborne Avenue
As you travel down St Bernard Ave and N Claiborne Ave, you will be traveling through the Historic Treme neighborhood (read our self-guided tour). Its boundaries are between North Rampart and North Broad, and from Canal Street to St. Bernard Avenue. It is considered to be one of the largest neighborhoods of Free People of Color before the American Civil War. Today it is a neighborhood ripe with tradition, especially musical.
Turn Right onto N Claiborne. At the 2nd cross street (which is Columbus St) turn Left, and then turn immediately Left once more onto N Claiborne. The Mother-in-Law Lounge will be on your Right.
H – The Mother in Law Lounge 1500 N Claiborne Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116 (map)
The Mother in Law Lounge once owned by the famed Emperor of the Universe Mr. Ernie K. Doe is not to be missed. The singer is loved by all New Orleanians for his #1 Billboard Hit “Mother in Law”. You can see the brightly painted depictions of famous community members including K. Doe, Antoinette, Big Chief Tootie Montana, and the current owner Kermit Ruffins.
During Hurricane Katrina, water reached the 2nd floor of the establishment. Antoinette K. Doe Ernie’s wife was known to help community members that paddled up to her second story window by feeding them Red Beans and Rice as well as Gumbo she was making on a portable propane stove. http://www.k-doe.com/
Head northeast on N Claiborne Ave. (towards Laharpe St) and turn Right onto St Bernard Ave.
H – Circle Foods 1522 St Bernard Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116 (map)
At the corner of Claiborne Ave. and St. Bernard Ave, you will see the iconic Circle Foods store. Once the epicenter of the two converging neighborhoods, it was a vital spot to pick up produce and groceries. Opened in 1938, it was one of the oldest continuously running grocery stores in New Orleans.
You can imagine the dismay of people around the world when the now iconic photos started to appear of Circle Foods with its neon still glowing with people rowing past with water up to the roof.
The store reopened in 2014, making it the first grocery store in the neighborhood to reopen nine years after the storm. Opening day was a milestone in Post Katrina New Orleans. http://www.circlefoodsnola.com/
I – North Robertson Ave. – Upper 9th Ward
Continue down Claiborne Ave. to travel into the Upper 9th Ward. This area saw flood waters rise up to 15 feet (4.5 meters). As you drive down the densely packed neighborhood, look into the blocks where you will see a part of New Orleans still dealing with blight, in what was once a highly populated and commercial thoroughfare.
From time to time, you may still spot the markings left by the National Guard, the LASPCA, and other help groups in the days and months after the storm. Continue on Claiborne Ave. over the Industrial Canal. On the Bridge look to the left. The levee that you see is the one that broke.
A single slash would have meant that the rescue agency was inside the property. AX would indicate that the agency had exited. The top is the date of entry, The right is personal hazards, gas, dogs, etc. The bottom quadrant means Number of live and dead victims still inside the structure. The left is the particular agency that had entered, examples would be Nat’l, or LASPCA.
Go back to N Claiborne, turn Right, and cross over Elysian Fields. N Claiborne turns slightly left and becomes N Robertson. Stay on N Robertson for approximately 1.3 miles and then turn Left onto Alvar St. Turn Right onto N Prieur St, and the Musicians Village will be on your Right.
J – Musicians Village – 3830 N Prieur St, New Orleans, LA 70117, (map)
After the devastating floods of Katrina subsided, thousands of people were left homeless, including hundreds of musicians and performers. New Orleans’ natives Harry Connick, Jr and Branford Marsalis teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to construct the Musicians Village, located in the Upper Ninth Ward.
Known as one of the “highest-profile building projects” in New Orleans, the Village boasts over 72 single-family homes, 5 duplexes, a toddler park, as well as The Ellis Marsalis Center For Music. Today, the artists, sounds, and culture that make New Orleans so special are thriving once again! https://www.ellismarsaliscenter.org/musicians-village
From the Musician’s Village, head East on N. Prieur St, and turn Right onto Poland Ave. Turn Left onto 39 S (N Robertson/N Claiborne), and drive over the Industrial Canal. Turn Right onto Tennessee St, then turn Right onto N Robertson, and then turn Right onto Jourdan Ave. The Levee will be on your Left.
K – The Industrial Canal Levee Breach and Locks – 2000-2098 Jourdan Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 (map)
As you view these locks you will see how high the water is without a storm surge. Keep in mind that storm surges rose over 10 feet above these levees and flooded all of the Lower 9th Ward, Arabi and St. Bernard Parish. http://wwno.org/post/where-yeat-eats-along-st-claude-avenue
Head North on Jourdan Ave, turn Right onto N Galvez St, and then turn left onto Tennessee St. The Make It Right Foundation will be on your Right.
L – Tennessee Street and The Make It Right Foundation, 2131 Tennessee St, New Orleans, LA 70117 (map)
As you pass over the Industrial Canal Bridge, look left and you will see the brightly colored homes with solar panels on the roof. These houses are 5-star energy efficient homes.
This is the area being revitalized by the Make It Right Foundation begun by the actor Brad Pitt in 2007. The first home was built in Spring of 2008 with former United States Presidents coming to the locations groundbreaking. This well-established neighborhood had the second highest rate of home ownership pre-Katrina in the City of New Orleans.
To qualify for a home, you have to had owned the land and lived on it or be a current teacher, policeman, firefighter, nurse or EMT. If you choose to drive through the neighborhood, be respectful and notice the handwritten street signs dating back to the days right after Katrina.
Head South on Tennessee St and turn Left onto N. Claiborne Ave. Turn Right onto Tupelo St. The House of Dance and Feathers will be on your Left.
M – House of Dance and Feathers, 1317 Tupelo St, New Orleans, LA 70117 (map)
In the back of Ronald Lewis’ property, located off Tupelo St in the Lower Ninth Ward, is the House of Dance and Feathers – a museum and cultural center dedicated to the Mardi Gras Indians. His collection of suits, beads, masks, figures, and books weaves a beautiful tapestry of the history and culture of New Orleans and paints a vivid masterpiece of the trials and triumphs of her people.
While visits are by appointment only, his hours are flexible – plan on making a quick call before heading out, as he is more than happy to make arrangements. There is no admission charge, but donations are accepted, as they are a registered charitable organization. 504-957-2678 houseofdanceandfeathers.org
Head South on Tupelo and turn Right onto Urquhart. Turn Left onto Caffin Ave, and Fats Domino’s house will be on your Right.
N – Fats Domino’s House 1208 Caffin Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117 (map)
Antoine Domino Jr. was born in Vacherie Louisiana in 1928 and his family moved early in his life to the Lower Ninth Ward. An American icon, his career has spanned over 60 years. His most notable hits are I Found My Thrill On Blueberry Hill (remade by President Vladimir Putin) and Walking To Ne Orleans.
As you view his yellow and black home, with its neon, with the owner’s name emblazoned, you realize he is an American icon. He chose to live in the 9th ward despite commercial success as an artist.
Shortly after the levees broke, it was stated on CNN that he had perished in the flood. It was a high point during a dark period when it was stated he had lived and been evacuated by the Coast Guard via a helicopter and basket. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2017.
Go South on Caffin Ave, turn Right onto St Claude Ave.
O – St. Claude Ave. and Post Katrina Gentrification
Driving down St. Claude Ave is the best place to view the revitalization of New Orleans post-storm. Blighted and empty in the days after the storm, this neighborhood is now bustling with development. An entertainment district has begun to appear, several schools have been rebuilt as well as many new restaurants being frequented by the younger crowd of New Orleanians. Looking up one or two to drink or dine in would not be a bad idea.
You will drive approximately 2.4 miles on St. Claude Ave. to Marigny St. Turn Left onto Marigny St, and then Right onto Royal St. Once you cross over Esplanade Ave, you are back in the French Quarter. Turn Left onto St. Ann and the Presbytere (today the Louisiana State Museum) will be on your Right.