Saturday, August 26, 2006
Breakfast Amongst the Ruins
Now I will admit to my cowardly nature: I was unable to bring myself to visit the worst desolation of NOLA, the lower 9th Ward and East New Orleans. I only barely made it to the downtown area on my last day (to have a fried oyster po-boy at "The Pearl" on St. Charles Ave. near Canal St.). I didn't really bother to look at the French Quarter. I tend to think of the Quarter as the reservation for tourists and, although there is much to see that is quintessentially NOLA there, it's not very representive of the NOLA I carry in my memory. Technically, the French Quarter is an area only about six by fifteen city blocks in size.
Oh, I saw plenty of desolation and ruin but you would do well to remember I visited mostly the uptown area between St Charles Ave. and the river. This area did not flood at all. Most damage was from wind and falling trees. I also have pictures from the Broadmoor neighborhood which was flooded, some of it seven to nine feet deep, I think. But many of the people living in the Broadmoor area apparently had access to the resources to repair their property damage. Not everyone, but I would estimate the majority did. And where I was staying (on a small residential street near Audubon Park) arguably had the lightest damage of anywhere in NOLA. Only one or two houses in every block still showed much visible damage almost a year after the hurricanes.
Elsewhere was another story.
Despite not getting to the lower 9th, I did see less fortunate areas such as the section of Tulane Ave. from downtown to S. Carrollton Ave. And they were a horror show of wreckage. Homes and businesses, obviously completely abandoned since the flooding, were always in sight. Sometimes long stretches contained no buildings with signs of renovation.
The picture with the "2 LIVE DOGS UNDER HOUSE" sign is from a house I picked pretty much at random along Tulane Ave. In other words, I didn't have to search hard for such a message. Unless it has been painted over, most houses still have these remaining notices from the house-to-house searches in the weeks following the hurricane. Note some of the dates: 10/8 and 10/17. That's the middle of October, five to seven weeks after Katrina. I don't think the "1 DEAD" refers a dog since it seems to pre-date the dog messages.
I'm uncertain whether anyone is reading these posts so drop me a comment on what you think of my observations. Are they depressing you? Do you have any questions? Let me know and I'll try to answer in a subsequent post. I'm feeling a bit compulsive about documenting this stuff before it slips my mind. So you can expect several more posts in this same vein.
Happy happy, joy joy.