Ellen: New Orleans
Recently, Ellen DeGeneres returned to her hometown of New Orleans to host a fundraiser for Brad Pitt’s charity, Make It Right, which is working to rebuild the city’s Ninth Ward, which is still recovering from the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
While there, she spent some time with the A-list actor and philanthropist to take a look at all the work that’s being done.
Ellen & Brad Pitt: Ninth Ward
Newly constructed modern homes are starting to line the streets in the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Volunteers have been helping with construction and landscaping around the neighborhood.
Brad Pitt’s hair is medium length these days, and he brushed it behind his ears before leading Ellen on a neighborhood tour, even saying hello to Mr. Liggett, whom Brad swears makes the best gumbo around.
He knows a lot of the residents by name, and he told Ellen about how he fell in love with the city of New Orleans during the early 1990s. “I fell in love with the place,” he said. “The people, the verve, the music. It’s in the air. It’s something you can’t describe.”
Ellen: Hurricane Katrina
Brad Pitt was working on a movie in Canada during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which basically wiped out the city’s Lower Ninth Ward when its levees failed. Homes were washed away, and Ellen flashed back to her tour of the devastation in the immediate aftermath.
It wasn’t that long ago, and it’s amazing to think about how much damage was done to such a concentrated area, and how slow the response was in helping people gather up the remains of their lives. It’s easy to forget when we are distracted by other natural disasters, like the tornadoes and earthquakes of recent years. Nature is a powerful force.
Ellen: Sustainable Housing
The new houses Brad Pitt’s Make It Right charity is building are raised above a certain height, as a safety precaution in the event of future hurricanes. The buildings are environmentally sustainable, and he explained to Ellen that the strength of these homes would withstand another devastating hurricane.
Brad Pitt and his crews have built 75 homes, with the future in mind, using nontoxic building materials and including solar panels and other energy efficient amenities. He said that the prices are now competitive, because the kinks have been worked out of the process. Construction on a home now takes just three months.
It’s so weird to see Brad Pitt mingling with the neighbors and calling everyone by name. He did say that he’s getting too much of the credit for the efforts of countless volunteers and contributors, as well as the families determined to reclaim their neighborhood after a disaster.
Ellen: Brad Pitt Make It Right Charity
Ellen praised Brad Pitt for using his celebrity and his passion to bring people together and help fuel the resurgence of a battered reason. Brad Pitt said he thinks one of his children might be headed on a path toward construction or design, after being inspired by all the work in New Orleans.
Brad said he came up with the Make It Right name after interviewing New Orleans families after the hurricane. He met a man who had done all the right things, buying a home, getting insurance, and providing for his family.
But after Katrina, the insurance check wasn’t going to begin to cover the family’s losses. The man pointed to the failure of the city’s levees. “If they’d just made it right the first time,” Brad Pitt remembered the man saying.
Do you know of anyone who was affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005? What do you think of this comeback story?