Thursday, June 22, 2006
New Orleans revisited...
Everyone I’ve talked to about New Orleans and the Gulf Coast has said the exact same thing — until you see if for yourself, you just can’t imagine.
Now that I’ve seen it for myself, well, I wasn’t even close to imagining — even after seeing all the pictures I’ve seen.
My daughter Dana and I left early Friday morning to go help her best friend since fifth grade. Christine has been back in New Orleans a couple months now, but has still not been able to get the door open to the house she and Granma lived in for many years.
After we arrived, we decided to tackle the door early Saturday morning, when the heat wasn’t quite as intense.
Late Friday we all piled in my car and drove through New Orleans and headed toward the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
For many years, Biloxi has been one of my favorite places. I really wanted to see how it fared and how the rebuilding was coming.
I guess I’ll have to make another trip, as you can’t get to Biloxi from New Orleans anymore. Once you come through what’s left of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, you come to a halt, as the rest of Hwy. 90 is literally gone in places.
Waveland and Bay St. Louis are still devastated. We drove through many miles of once-wealthy suburbs, lining the once beautiful bay areas and they’re only rubble now. In one neighborhood, in an area of slabs and litter, a lone bathtub and bathroom sink still stood in someone’s bathroom.
One slab where a house used to be still had a pool and hot tub area — now it’s filled with mosquito-eating fish.
In Christine’s neighborhood, Gentilly in New Orleans, most of the local businesses are still closed. One supermarket is open most of the time, but you’re never really sure what’s going to be in there.
Even the local Wal-Mart is only partially open. More than half of the store is blocked off and empty.
I was happy to discover that the quilt store was open and doing fine. I was so happy to see it that I found myself buying way more than I should have — all in a good cause though. Christine has about three or four of Granma’s blouses — one that came from the shelter in Shreveport. I’m going to cut them up and make her a quilt. Naturally, I had to have a bit of extra fabric!
The French Quarter appeared as always — a bright spot in a devastated city.
The worst part — looking at the houses in Christine’s neighborhood and seeing the numbers spray-painted on. Many had a 1 or a 2 instead of 0 — a body count.
Ten months later the Gulf Coast still looks like a war zone.
But, slowly, slowly, life is returning to “normal.” At least for those still there.
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