Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States, including the city of New Orleans, on August 29, 2005. Although New Orleans is famous for its French Quarter, Mardi Gras celebrations, riverboats, music, and Creole culture and cuisine, few people are aware of its vibrant Vietnamese community. This paper describes how the Vietnamese community of New Orleans East, an area locally known as Versailles, was affected by Hurricane Katrina and why the task of rebuilding community in Versailles was distinct from rebuilding other areas of the city. In Vietnamese, the word for water,
, also means ‘country’; this linguistic metaphor indicates the great symbolic importance of ‘water’ and ‘home’, especially for a group of displaced people. Environmental changes after the storm, particularly in access to clean water, affected key cultural components of the Versailles Vietnamese community.