The good news: those on my mother's side of the family who lived in New Orleans got out before Hurricane Katrina hit. They are staying with family in Baton Rouge and elsewhere. Amazingly, NOAA satellite imagery seems to indicate that all of their houses stayed above water. My aunt went back to work at a temporary office in Baton Rouge a few days ago. Her husband, my uncle, works for the Army Corps of Engineers and returned to New Orleans to help rebuild the city.
The bad news: even though it appears that my family may have homes to return to, it does not look like they will ever return to the city they knew. My heart goes out to them and all the other millions of people affected by this catastrophe.