New Orleans – January 2006

I went with my brother in January of 2006 as soon as we could to assess damage to his property and to do what we could to assist my niece with her home. Nearly four months after Katrina struck this is what we found.  Katrina wasn’t racist or elitist. The levees broke on both sides of the tracks.

KatrinaFloodingThe only difference was the well-to-do had insurance or the means to rebuild. The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans suffered the worst devastation. This was largely due to the storm surge generated in the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a deep-draft shipping channel built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1950s, which destroyed tens of thousands of acres of protective coastal wetlands that once acted as a storm surge buffer for the community. Storm surge flood waters poured into the neighborhood from at least three sources. To the east, water flowed in from Saint Bernard Parish, while to the west the Industrial Canal suffered two distinct major breaches. The force of the water did not merely flood homes, but smashed or knocked many off their foundations. A large barge came through the breach near Claiborne Avenue, leveling homes beneath it as it floated in the flood waters. Storm surge was so great that even the highest portions of the Lower Ninth were flooded; Holy Cross School, which had served as a dry refuge after Hurricane Betsy, was inundated, and even the foot of the Mississippi River levee, the area’s highest point, took on some 2 to 3 feet of water.  The 2000 census of the Lower Ninth listed 14,008 residents, the census of 2010 listed 2,842 residents.

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