Hurricane Katrina didn't discriminate, battering the Crescent City's ghettos as hard as its wealthiest enclaves. Two storm troopers on opposite ends of the financial spectrum tell their stories

Michelle Ozah, 15, high school student and daughter Patricia Ozah, 48, mother
After escaping a civil war in her native Nigeria, Patricia Ozah never thought America, too, would make a refugee out of her. But during Hurricane Katrina, hobbled by blindness and diabetes, she and her daughter Michelle were stranded in the New Orleans Convention Center. Amazingly, Michelle, just 15 and also diabetic, shepherded her mother through the storm, stuck in New Orleans for the duration of the disaster. Michelle tells her story simply; she just wants to get back home.

William Dobard, 25, student
In New Orleans, William Dobard is middle-class. He comes from a home where both parents worked—his mom was a casino supervisor, his father managed a retail store before retiring—and the family owned their own house. Before Katrina, he was looking forward to completing his senior year at Dillard University. When we first spoke with him in mid-September, he'd rejoined his folks in Chicago. He's since relocated to Atlanta, where he's finally found an apartment of his own and is promoting parties to make ends meet. Dobard is hoping to get into an Atlanta school in January so he can finally finish his senior year. Eventually, he says, he hopes to return home to New Orleans, where he and some friends plan to lead a Big Easy renaissance.