Monday, April 28, 2008

The Ninth Ward: The Sobering Side of New Orleans

Only a foundation slab and three concrete steps remain of what was once somebody’s home. Ed and I sat there quietly on the corner of Tennessee and North Galvez Streets in the Lower Ninth Ward. The effects of Hurricane Katrina tragically hit this New Orleans neighborhood on August 23, 2005 after the storm moved inland. The levee system and floodwalls here catastrophically failed sending flood waters to the roof levels. Life there changed forever.

Traces of the emergency efforts can still be seen as painted graffiti on the fronts of houses and apartments. A poodle had been evacuated from the 2nd floor of one high rise. But mostly, we saw the ghostly remains of tree-lined streets with no houses on any of the city blocks in this distinctive region of New Orleans.

Now and then, noise interrupted the silence. We’d hear the sound of a hammer from a home being built or a lawnmower cutting the calf-high grass on a vacant lot. There was a little activity. A California film crew occupied a block for the staging of movie scene. We could see a boat glide along the water and under a drawbridge along the Industrial Canal.

We watched a woman carry boxes from her car into a second floor apartment. She told us that some families were beginning to return to the community. Her family was moving back because this neighborhood was where her husband grew up and her children grew up – this place was home.

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