Ten years after Katrina

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.  Life has continued rolling along, lives have been rebuilt and other disasters have come and gone.  Wednesday, Gail and I went to see for ourselves what the storied 9th ward looks like a decade later.

Some houses still stand as though the rain stopped yesterday.

Some houses still stand as though the rain stopped yesterday.

We entered the upper 9th ward, and noticed that every house had a new roof. Mostly the neighborhoods looked pretty good, with neatly repaired houses and just a few derelict homes.

Then we crossed the bridge into the lower 9th, and it looked like an atom bomb had cleared the place.  Block after block of devastation still exists, empty lots, piles of debris, inexplicable mounds of discarded tires.  A church that remains boarded up after 10 years:

Boarded windows and chain link fence

Boarded windows and chain link fence

The building might be sound, but there are no residents to form a congregation,

Entire square blocks are empty.  The debris has been carted away, but the devastation remains.

Cleaned up but not repaired.

Cleaned up but not repaired.

Now the interesting part.  There has been some reconstruction.  A number of new homes have been built, all with similar architecture and decor.  The residences are in a very modern style, built on piers so that flood waters can flow harmlessly beneath, with roofs sloped into the prevailing winds.  Clearly, all these homes are from the same architect/developer.  Private money?  The government?  I don’t know but think it is probably the federales, doing just a small percentage of what is needed to bring this shattered neighborhood back to life.  It’s a great choice of colors, though.

 

The brilliant colors of the new homes are a delight, a bright spot in a dreary urban disaster area.  They can’t overwhelm the bleak emptiness of the dozens of empty lots, the torn up, uneven, barely passable roads, the total lack of stores, churches, gas stations, banks, diners, police stations, fire houses, schools or any other form of modern infrastructure.  I don’t know what was in the lower 9th before Katrina, but there sure isn’t much there now, it’s just a wasteland of broken concrete and lost hopes.

The legacy of Katrina

The legacy of Katrina

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