Deep South Roadtrip: New Orleans Katrina tour

8.03.2009
So we arrived in New Orleans on Tuesday, and did a whole bunch of fun things before we went on this Katrina driving tour on Wednesday. But, I'll post about those later. I figured we'd start with the heavy stuff and then talk about the restaurants and whatnot. The reverse somehow doesn't feel appropriate. I would suggest clicking to enlarge the photos.
********************************************************************************
We only drove around one area, the lower ninth ward, and only one small section of it. It wasn't the part of New Orleans that was under the most water, but it is the section of the city that has the least amount of re-building since the hurricane. The part of town we were in flooded due to a levee breach on an industrial canal right next to their homes. The water rose to between 4 and 10 feet, and remained anywhere between 23 and 29 days.
We were there four years later. It's stark and sad and humbling. Everything is gone - these homes were destroyed and ripped apart and then rotted in feet of stagnant water. Some homes are still standing because their owner hopes to rebuild, but it hasn't happened yet. These homes are completely surrounded by 4 years of grass growth and a lack of care.
Other homes are obviously new. But, very few families have been able to completely rebuild on their own. This neighborhood was not affluent. You can tell when you see three remnants of foundations in an area folks from my suburban hometown would call a "small lot."
Otherwise, you see foundation stones. Front gates. Steps leading up to invisible porches. It's clear something is missing. And it's clear much has been ignored. Some streets are completely covered in plant growth and haven't been cleared. Street signs are handmade by residents. Maybe Kanye West was right.
Four years later.
A good representation. We were in the area where most of the red is.
Afterwards, we drove across the canal back towards the French Quarter and diverted down some side streets.
While homes here were not completely washed away, the amount of water and wind damage you can still see is shocking. Some homes clearly have families living in the them. Others - maybe every third home - is boarded up or abandoned. Many homes still have the spray painted tag on their front - left from recovery personnel the days directly following the storm. Businesses are closed. All the signs stapled onto powerline poles are about how to reconnect your air conditioning, or for house leveling, or putting floors down. The sense that so many people were still living daily with such clear reminders of this event was hard to see. You can see a tag, in bright red, on the house below. The date the house was searched was 9/12. The hurricane made landfall on 8/29.
This area was more emotional for me to see, because supposedly, this area wasn't "as bad" in terms of damage. Clearly though, lives were destroyed. And no one has helped put them back together. We had to stop taking pictures.
Four years later.
Before we left, I wasn't sure what we would see, because most of the updated information or photos I could find were not recent. There is a bunch of information from the year anniversary. And then...nothing new. Naively, I sort of thought that no news meant good news! That things were being rebuilt, citizens being helped, support systems in place. That's not what we found.

4 comments:

H0shi~sama said...

is this due of a typhoon or a tornado?

Dan said...

That's from Hurricane Katrina. Photos taken July 2009. Hurricane August 29, 2005.

H0shi~sama said...

oh...and yeah, i remember that typhoon well!it was named Nina (i think, i forgot!) here in my country...
that typhoon also killed a lot of people here too! Especially in Leyte...

ro! said...

sad. i really REALLY want to go there and help build houses.