“If y’all keep paying your money to see it,
should we rebuild it?”
Please take a moment to view this public service announcement that was produced by a local New Orleans production company, 2-Cent Entertainment. It really gave me pause.
Shortly after Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005, you could ride through the Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans on virtually any street and see cars moving slowly throughout the flooded and ravaged neighborhood. If you looked closely at the cars, you would see camera lenses protruding from passenger and backseat windows. Everyone living in the city before the hurricanes knew that New Orleans was a virtual “fishbowl” before the storm. Only now, the residents and their suffering, were now encased in that thick glass bowl, filled with water. The world moved slowly around them, watching and capturing footage of their misery. Many of the visitors were from out of town. Most had never heard of the Lower 9th prior to the storm.
When I returned to the city to retrieve my belongings in October 2005, the Lower 9th seemed frozen in time. The combination of the wind and the flood had shoved houses off of their foundation, slamming them into one another like an action movie set. Cars were flipped over in the most unusual positions; holes were busted in roofs from attics where people fled to escape the rising waters. Boats were overturned on the sides of streets and awkwardly settled on front lawns.
I know this because I, too, visited these neighborhoods and captured it all with my video camera. When friends and family came to visit, I drove them through the streets to see the damage for themselves. And, I have to admit, I started to feel ashamed. I’m no longer offering my own Katrina “tour” and the PSA video does a good job of explaining why.
Today, nearly 4 years after Katrina, many of the homes in the Lower 9th have either been demolished by the city or have remained vacant and empty. All that’s left are newly constructed homes, raised several feet off the ground; an unusual sight to see on stretches of lonely streets with just 3 or 4 occupied homes. There are empty lots and stairs that lead to nowhere. The sturdiest structure on many of these streets are the oak trees. Some of the empty yards have flower memorials that represent the families that once lived there. A graffiti tag on the side of 4-plex apartment reads, “This was Home.”
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