New Orleans Lower 9th Ward — One Year Later

On my last day I had asked lb0313 if I really needed to post all the videos I took on this trip. Surely people must know how bad it is here I thought. Then something happened on the plane.

I hadn’t spoken with the woman sitting next to me during the flight but when we landed in Chicago she asked if I lived in NOLA. I said no I’d been down there working. She said she had been in NOLA to drop her son off at Tulane for his first year. Then she said, “It looks really good down there.”

I took a breath and asked if she had been to Lakeview or Gentilly or the Lower 9th or St. Bernard Parish. She said no. She had been in the CBD and the Quarter. I told her well it’s pretty bad outside those areas. She asked why and I started to explain about the problems with insurance and the federal money not coming to people. She stopped me and said, “No, No. Why aren’t businesses coming back. I would think they’d be clamoring to invest there.”

I simply said, ” No one knows if the levees are safe for a hurricane or even a tropical storm so they don’t want to invest only to have it all washed away again.”

She looked away and never said another thing. I think it hit her where she’d just left her son.

So below is The Lower 9th Ward-God is Watching Us Part 2. Let me say this of what I saw in the Lower 9th at one year compared to at 6 months. About a6 10 block area along several streets closest to the Industrial Canal had been largely cleared of debris and homes had been demolished but not all. Homes were being demolished here and there in other parts. That is why you’ll see empty lots (many overgrown) next to homes in the video. There were less piles of debris this time. Abandoned cars remain but seemed a bit less though I was surprised at the number that were there given they’d been largely removed from other areas of the city. If they are on private land they are not removed but for many that didn’t seem the case.

I spent 2 days in the Lower 9th. The first day was cut a bit short as my vehicle broke down. I saw only a very few residents in this area and perhaps 3 FEMA trailers. I saw two homes that had been rebuilt. There was much more demolition of homes in the 9th than I saw going on in Lakeview or St. Bernard where I had seen next to no demolition. Roads were generally cleared and I saw only one house in a road this time. I also stopped and talked with the folks at Common Ground and will write of that later.

My final assessment was it still looks horrible. The scenes in the video are typical and certainly not cherry picked. Seeing houses on cars and all the other strange things are really not extraordinary. It is really difficult to convey the scope of this and so just know that one can drive miles of blocks and see what is in the video. And that is just the lower 9th. St. Bernard lies below the Lower 9th and I’ll have a video on that as well as Lakeview.

Video: scout while driving a shift.

Music: Nanci Griffith: “God is watching us” and “I’m Coming Home” by Clifton Chenier

Length: 6 minutes