My grandma lived in New Orleans before the storm. Her house is near the lake front, just south of the University of New Orleans' Arena Complex. The house that she lived in for almost 60 years had about 5 feet of water in it. It's raised roughly 4 feet off the ground. When I heard about the storm, way back when, I knew I'd be coming down here to help.
I wound up in Biloxi rather than New Orleans because I knew Dave Campbell, founder of Hands On USA, would run a tight ship getting stuff done. I've been here since mid-January. In early February, I helped gut my grandma's house.
All this is going somewhere, I promise. As a matter of fact, I drove around New Orleans this Saturday. I had just finished dropping my sister off at the airport. I figured I'd get some good food at Whole Foods, go sit on the shore of Lake Ponchatrain and enjoy the hot, balmy afternoon. Unfortunately, the thought of lounging about dissipated as I drove through block after block of flooded, empty, dead houses.
Nine months after the storm, the houses still sit with little apparent activity. Miles of city are dead. None of this is new, I saw it all in February. What made me angry this time was the obvious lack of progress in New Orleans as compared to Biloxi. We read it in the paper, we even read it on blog posts like this, but we never really know it until we're in it.
I don't have much that's insightful, other than I recognized the anger boiling up at the little that the city of New Orleans has managed to accomplish in these neighborhoods during nine months since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita broke the levies and submerged most of the city for a month.
Seeing New Orleans so far behind makes me happy that I work in Biloxi where at least the possibility of change, redevelopment, and growth give volunteers, businesses, and residents, some hope.
:: Chris ::