Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Draft: The Forgotten Ward: New Orleans Today

I am a passenger as I ride in an air conditioned car with the window down, viewing the devastation that still remains.  I see houses so exhausted that it is surprising the moisture in the air is not enough to bring them to the ground.  Each house bares a spray painted X with information about the date of entry, identification of the rescue team, possible hazards, and number of deaths.  Almost six years later, the signature stains the deteriorating home.  I was hoping to see these symbols, but the amount left on the homes leaves me uncomfortable.

Earlier that trip I was drinking my hand grenade on Bourbon Street as I watched the shoppers and drinkers around me.  I bought a hand-crafted flower headband at the French Market from a quiet young woman with her book in hand.  I even sucked head as I ate crayfish for the first time.  This is New Orleans, right?

New Orleans relies on tourism to survive, and engaging in these activities is a major part of the fun, but travel should impress more than a good time.  Traveling creates awareness and a better understanding of our world. When I return home I have a sense of fullness from the knowledge I have gained, and I feel thankful.

I was disturbed.  Almost six years after hurricane Katrina, and devastation still hangs in the humid air off the well tread path.  Efforts are being made to rebuild, but why is the process so slow?  The "Make it Right Foundation" is one group trying to do just as the name implies.  Sponsored by Brad Pitt, this group is working to build new homes that are green and ready for the next storm that comes up the gulf.

I get out of my car to take pictures of the old and the new.  As we drive up and down the empty streets, I find a home that is not empty.  Beyond the unkempt, weed-infested grass I see a door-less, windowless house filled with piles of debris.  Most of the items are unrecognizable; primarily wood that may be suitable for kindling.

As I shamefully take pictures, I try to imagine this being my home.  Truthfully, I can't imagine this because I have never come close to losing everything and having to abandon all that is familiar.  Someone lived here.  I wonder where the owners are and why there house was left this way.

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