Five years after floodwaters breached New Orleans levees following Hurricane Katrina, actor Brad Pitt is speaking out on how city residents have coped with the devastation and on his efforts to help “make it right” for those who hail from one of the storm’s most ravaged neighborhoods.
“There’s still a lot of psychological scarring, especially with kids,” Pitt told NBC’s Brian Williams from the Lower Ninth Ward, where the actor’s “Make it Right Foundation” is working to construct 150 eco-friendly homes for those whose structures were destroyed after Katrina.
The "Fight Club" star has commissioned 21 architects to build about 50 homes so far, Williams reported for NBC Nightly News on Friday.
Community residents have helped with the design of the homes and choose their colors, Pitt said.
“These people are resilient. The spirit is alive and well,” he said. “I see them having barbecues in the back and I’m thrilled.”
In an interview for the Times-Picayune earlier this week, Pitt said that he first fell in love with New Orleans in 1994 while shooting “Interview with a Vampire.”
“It got under my skin. Everything was sexy and sultry. I’d ride my bike all over the place, amazed by the architecture,” Pitt told his interviewer, the historian Douglas Brinkley.
When the hurricane struck on Aug. 29, 2005, Pitt was in Calgary, Canada shooting a film. He said he felt “gutted” watching people stranded on rooftops from his TV set.
“My instinct said that we have to find a way for those people to find a road home. New homes were clearly going to be needed,” Pitt said.
In 2006, he started “Make it Right” and has since bought a home of his own in the French Quarter.
Speaking to NBC’s Williams, Pitt said the more he researched the way the city’s levy’s walls were poorly built and maintained the more angry he became.
“This place that are standing right now there were over 1,500 deaths. That was unnecessary,” Pitt said. “That should not have happened. I got angry. I got really angry.”
Pitt said he chose the Lower Ninth Ward to try to make a difference because “because it was iconic of everything that was wrong with the rescue, the recovery.”
But he said devastated areas still exist all over Louisiana.
“I wish we could do more.”