Everyone has seen pictures and video of The Lower Ninth Ward and the devastation in that area following Hurricane Katrina. We visited the area just a few months after the storm and saw first hand the damage and the beginnings of recovery. These pictures were taken in May 2006.
At that time, there were very few people in the Lower Ninth Ward working on their homes, or clearing debris.
The mood throughout New Orleans seemed somber, and while many business owners and residents felt that the city would recover, they did not seem too sure about the path they would take to get there.
We have been back a couple of times since, and the most recent trip was just this month. I was attending the 145th American Veterinary Medical Association annual convention, which brought over 7000 people to the city. (As an aside, New Orleans is back to hosting large conventions, and the National Conference of State Legislature’s annual summit was getting underway as ours was ending. They were expecting 8000 or more in association with that conference. Both conferences were happening at the same time on our final day, and the Convention Center still seemed to have room for more.)
Our Keynote speaker was CBS and NPR journalist Cokie Roberts, who is a native of New Orleans, and she probably spoke for most residents by acknowledging that, “Three years ago, when the storm hit, it was a failure of government at every level.”
(She also joked “We bury people above ground in New Orleans because it is quicker to get them to the polls that way.”)
I was not a blogger in 2005 but I have commented since on the colossal failures of the Bush administration in the aftermath 0f (as well as the preparation for) Katrina.
Close to “ground zero” of the levee failure along the Industrial Canal that flooded the Lower Ninth were homes, but all that is left now is grassy lots, as the rush of water swept the homes away. This was a neighborhood in August 2005, but in 2008 it looks like this.
In part 2 of this series I will highlight recovery efforts in the Holy Cross area of the Lower Ninth Ward.