January 2, 2009

water marks

You can't help but to be aware of Hurricane Katrina's effects when in New Orleans. Though the French Quarter is on higher ground and was spared of most of the damage (and fully open and alive), you still notice a large number of places for sale. Kevin offered to take me around to see some of the harder hit areas of the city. While progress is clearly underway, its astounding that there is so much to be done three years after the fact; and the difference in levels of recovery between different neighborhoods is also stark. In the Ninth Ward, entire neighborhoods are just plain gone. Blocks upon blocks of empty land were once filled with houses. And for the most part, retail and schools have yet to return there. Many houses still standing have a hole somewhere in their roof because this was the only way to rescue people after the waters suddenly rose and trapped people in their attics. In other areas you may find most houses restored with the occasional bombed-out looking house or temporary trailer tucked among them, like in the area where Kevin lived at the time - his house was under more than 6 feet of water for 19 days - a good 4 miles away from the nearest levee break. Still, scars are healing, and Kevin says the best thing that people can do to help is to visit. While charity contributions are certainly helpful, the effect of spending money as a tourist goes much farther toward helping everyone recover.

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