New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward was the area noted as the “Area of Total Destruction” after Hurricane Katrina. It is a very poor area situated right beside the Industrial Canal off the Mississippi River. It was here where a long section of the flood wall failed shortly before midnight on August 28, 2005. As the protection collapsed, a 13 foot high wall of water burst into the impoverished residential area knocking houses with sleeping families off their foundations and bringing with it a large river barge which ground up all the homes beneath it. An estimated 200 people died in the lower Ninth Ward that night.
As we were driving through the streets today we met a young black man in a truck doing the same thing. We stopped and talked and he told us he was born and raised there. He pointed out where his grandparents house once stood and the empty site of the small store where he and his friends bought single sticks of gum. He pointed to the yard where he and his friends would throw rocks over the flood wall they thought would protect them.
There is still much damage in evidence. Here are some of the houses that are damaged but still standing:
Note the “Scheduled for Demolition” sign on the green house below, and the sprayed signs, “Gas Off” and “SPCA – Dogs” on the second brick house. Not much has changed here since that night in 2005.
Brad Pitt’s Houses
On the bright side, here are some of the houses that actor Brad Pitt is building to give back to the homeowners. The gentleman we talked to said he had mixed feelings when Brad Pitt first announced his project. He figured it was just another rich white actor trying to make himself more famous. He said he soon changed his mind after seeing Pitt riding his bike around the area monitoring the construction of the thirty some houses he was paying to have built. Just Brad riding his bike and talking to the kids with no bodyguards or photographers. Here are some of the Brad Pitt houses. They all have solar panels on the roof and are “Green” construction. The last one has an elevator to get the elderly owners from the parking area to the main floor:
I don’t think I will be missing any more Brad Pitt movies! He deserves a great deal of credit for his efforts in the Lower Ninth Ward!
The Flood Wall
Here is the rebuilt Flood Wall. The original was built in the 90’s by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The construction was let out to the lowest bidder who used substandard materials. Lets hope this one holds next time.
Imagine this wall collapsing and a 13 foot high wall of water hitting the flimsy houses!
Fats Domino’s House
Here is Fats Domino’s house. It is right in the Lower Ninth Ward district as Fats wanted to live right with the people who put him into stardom. The first floor of the house was submerged by Katrina and Fats, who wanted to stay in his house and studio and “ride out” the storm, had to be rescued through the roof of the house. He intends to move back into the house after repairs are completed. Fats started a fund to replace instruments of New Orleans musicians that were lost in the hurricane. His fund has generated over $300,000. Here is his house with his studio attached. It looks almost ready for the big guy to move back in. Ironically, one of Fats’ big hits was Blue Monday and it was on a Monday that Katrina struck his house!
There are some very good photos on this linked site of the aftermath of Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward. Link