Driving through the 9th

New Orleans Travel Blog

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After more than a year, the destruction still reigns.  The 9th district was eerily quiet, trees laid bare, rust taking over, not a single soul inhabiting any of the homes.  We did see a couple construction crews working at bringing order to the chaos, even a volunteer corps sporting face masks, to gut an apartment complex.

 

We could not have been more fortunate than finding our cabbie Mike, who was here before, during, and after the hurricane.  Being a third generation Orleansean, I asked him why he did not leave when the warnings came.  "where would we have gone,?" he replies.  There had been warnings before, evacuations urged, and then the storms were half as bad as predicted.  "No one expected it to be so bad..." 

 

Mike was laying tile the day before katrina arrived, "i was out of touch with the seriousness of the storm.

There would be half a foot of water in his home, no power for 25 days, and three months with no work.  He had his first cheeseburger after 6 weeks at Wendy's, which had a limited menu with no tomatoes or lettuce to be had.

 

We explored a few of the devastated homes.  Each foundation had been rocked and tossed about.  I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, seeing houses askew, picked up and set back down somehwhere else.  The memories, the lives lived, the personal treasures, all jumbled together and tossed about inside their homes.  Suitcases on doorsteps, clothes spilling out, seeped in silt and disease from the raging waters.  Left behind by owners escaping only with their lives.

Skulls of pets, living rooms cluttered with big screen tvs, photographs, bicycles, beds, record players...disguised under layers of mud and silt.  There are no colors here; all is hues of brown.

  A silence permeates everything here, the spirit of lives once lived has faded far away.  We spy chairs on the medical center's roof, cars wedged underneath homes, flattened vehicles, a refrigeration unit on the roof of a home...

 

it is a shock to experience the immeasurable power of water, an element that sustains us, yet destroys with equal fervor.

 

Throughout New Orleans, we see trailers everywhere, makeshift homes for all of the displaced residents.  2400 children were seperated from parents, many of the homes would not see rescue crews for a month after the hurricane hit.  Every third house we passed on Esplanade (row upon row of gorgeous colonial greco-roman style mansions) was for sale.  Prices for rent went from the $500s after the hurricane, to $1500 today.  Mike sais no one can afford to live here anymore, but those that remained through the worst of the storm, have weathered adversity and are intent on making it again, what it once was.

 

SalsaQueeen says:
great blog and images
Posted on: Mar 08, 2009
hannajax says:
thank you for your thoughts...i know it sounds macabre for me to say it, but i wished i had been there when it all happened...though strangely enough one is still deeply impacted so long after it happened
Posted on: Sep 28, 2007
EDGtravel says:
I tried to photograph the 9th Ward. I didn't know where to start. The smell, destruction, the silence, the dead people & pet graffiti, mold, flood dust in streets were so overwhelming and surreal. You've done an excellent job capturing that surreal feeling. It still seems like yesterday.
Posted on: Sep 16, 2007
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