By Campbell Robertson and Richard Fausset, the New York TImes

NEW ORLEANS — It is a wonder that any of it is here at all: The scattered faithful gathering into Beulah Land Baptist Church on a Sunday morning in the Lower Ninth Ward. The men on stoops in Mid-City swapping gossip in the August dusk. The brass band in Tremé, the lawyers in Lakeview, the new homeowners in Pontchartrain Park.

Aerial view of the Ninth Ward in East New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Aerial view of the Ninth Ward in East New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

On Aug. 29, 2005, it all seemed lost. Four-fifths of the city lay submerged as residents frantically signaled for help from their rooftops and thousands were stranded at the Superdome, a congregation of the desperate and poor. From the moment the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina dismantled a fatally defective levee system, New Orleans became a global symbol of American dysfunction and government negligence. At every level and in every duty, from engineering to social policy to basic logistics, there were revelations of malfunction and failure before, during, and after Katrina.

Ten years later, it is not exactly right to say that New Orleans is back. The city did not return, not as it was.

It is, first of all, without the more than 1,400 people who died here, and the thousands who are now making their lives someplace else. As of 2013, there were nearly 100,000 fewer black residents than in 2000, their absences falling equally across income levels. The white population decreased by about 11,000, but it is wealthier.

The city that exists in 2015 has been altered, by both a decade of institutional re-engineering and the artless rearrangement that occurs when people are left to fend for themselves.

Empowered by billions of federal dollars and the big ideas of eager policy planners, the school system underwent an extensive overhaul; the old Art Deco Charity Hospital was supplanted by a state-of-the-art medical complex; and big public housing projects, at once beloved and notorious, were razed and replaced by mixed-income communities with housing vouchers…

As before, there are two cities here. One is booming, more vibrant than ever, still beautiful in its best-known neighborhoods and expanding into places once written off; the other is returning to pre-Katrina realities of poverty and routine violence, but with a new sense of dislocation for many as well.

Old inequities have proved to be resilient. The child poverty rate (about 40 percent) and the overall poverty rate (close to 30 percent) are almost unchanged from 2000…

The ability of many residents to afford housing — in a city of escalating rents and low wages — is more compromised than before. In a recent ranking of 300 American cities by income inequality based on census data, New Orleans came in second, a gap that falls starkly along racial lines. According to the Data Center, a New Orleans-based think tank focusing on Southern Louisiana, the median income of black households here is 54 percent lower than that of white households.

Many here are more impatient than ever to fix these old problems, yet are ambivalent about all the outside expertise and weary of so much change after a decade of upheaval. Others, particularly black residents, see something more nefarious at work.

“They want to push us to the side like we don’t matter,” said Janie Blackmon, a champion of still-struggling New Orleans East, home of much of the black middle class.

New Orleans, of course, has long wrestled with disparities of race and class. For most of its history it has experienced the demographic churn of a port town and a simultaneous anxiety that it was always on the cusp of losing its character…

Success or failure will nonetheless be gauged ward by ward, neighborhood by neighborhood and block by block.

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