To be Clear: Lower 9th ward differs from 9th Ward

AP reports “neighborhoods known as the 9th Ward can be brought back largely as they existed before Hurricane Katrina flooded them, a survey contends.” The AP story stated this…

The finding contradicts the common perception that the neighborhoods are so damaged that they need to be rebuilt from scratch, said urban planners who conducted the survey.

The confusion is because the vast majority of photos and video you would have seen in the media of the 9th Ward were of the Lower 9th Ward. Virtually all of the photos and video you saw here at First Draft were of the Lower 9th Ward.

There is a difference between the 9th Ward which is quite large encompassing several different areas some of which had not so much flooding as opposed to the destruction in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhoods. So it’s not so surprising that the survey found that more than 80 percent of the 9th Ward structures “suffered no terminal structural damage.”

However in the Lower 9th Ward areas usually profiled by the media, the report found (Pdf) many vacant lots and that 50% of structures still standing would need to be demolished

In the Lower 9th neighborhood, north of N. Claiborne Avenue, and in Desire Area slab foundation residences represented about 50% of the current standing structures surveyed. These residences will be costly to elevate to meet FEMA guidelines and will likely need to be demolished.

The structures that are salvagable will require a great deal of work and money to refurbish

The highest percentage of homes with heavy flooding are in the northern Lower 9th, Florida Avenue and the southern section of Desire Area.


Homes with heavy flooding will require the gutting beyond 50% of the structure height. This means that over half of the interior walls, flooring, paint, and electrical wiring will need to be replaced. Interior cabinetry and appliances will need to be replaced as well. The cost to refurbish these structures will be extensive, ranging from $30,000-$50,000. More critically, structures with this level of flooding damage typically need to be elevated to new FEMA foundation height guidelines before building permits will be issued to the owners. This will add $15,000-$25,000 to the cost of repair.

I think it is important to note and keep this in mind that what you would have seen on TV was the LOWER 9th Ward and it was bad as you thought.

Still it is good news for the 9th Ward in total.