I made it back to New Orleans on Thursday afternoon and here were my initial thoughts:
I started my 1996 Honda Civic EX’s engine at 0100 EST. I rocketed up I-75 to I-10 and then headed west on 10 all the way in. At 0900 CST, I hit the Twin Single Span across the Lake. Moments later I realized that New Orleans will never be rebuilt in my lifetime.
New Orleans East cannot be described; it can only be seen. You must drive through it. What you see on television is nothing. Nothing. You have not seen devestation until you have driven through NOE. There is no life — mammalian, avian — nothing outside the plant kingdom (and whatever mold falls into). It is uninhabitable and must be bulldozed. This will take decades. Yes, the cleanup will take decades. In fact, it’s likely that the cleanup will never be complete.
I fully expect New Orleans to be a mostly dead city until I am an old, old man, maybe in my late 60s or my 70s. My guess is that no place on Earth compares to the ghost town of New Orleans East. Maybe some cities in the former Yugoslavia were close during the recent clashes. Close. But there, people still lived. No one lives in New Orleans East.
It’s been something like three months and most and perhaps even all of Carrollton Avenue still has no functioning street lights; neither does Earhart Expressway.
It has been a week now, and I’ve had a chance to drive all around the city.
All I can say is that this place is broken down. Crushed. Demolished.
It is a moral lapse of the first order for politicians to keep telling people to come back. I am going to take some flack for telling the truth, but since that’s what this blog is for, that’s what I’m going to do. New Orleans is a wasteland. Sure, there are a lot of contractors out there trying to clean up, but it’s barely making a dent.
You have to see it in person to understand. There are MASSIVE dead areas. Areas of several square miles which will have to be completely torn down. Hell, they ARE STILL FINDING BODIES in some areas.
The idea that this city is going to try to do Mardi Gras boggles the mind.
Anyway, a close friend of mine is trying to do the Lord’s work in another brutalized area along the Gulf Coast. You can read what he’s got to say in the email at the bottom of this entry. If you can do anything to help, it will be greatly appreciated. There is a link to the school and my friend’s email included. Please help if you can.
From: eli lucas
To: Michael Barnett
As per our conversation last weekend, I’m writing regarding
St. Clare Elementary School of Waveland, Mississippi. St.
Clare’s beach-front location on the Gulf was in the direct
path of Katrina’s greatest destruction. The school was
totally devastated – washed from the surface of Earth;
albeit their recovery thus far is amazing.
While New Orleans evacuees complain from afar about the lack
of improvement in New Orleans, St. Clare Elementary is
returning to business. To date approximately 85% of their
student body returned to class. St. Clare is neither
waiting for the FEMA elf, nor any other governmental agency
to rebuild their paradise. Funded solely by private
donations, St. Clare’s new home consists of nineteen white
tents surrounded by total devastation. The link to their
website is http://www.stclareelementary.org.
Continued progress at St. Clare is not without costs.
Although the limited amount of tuition revenue thus far
fails to meet salary expenses, St. Clare accepts everyone
regardless of their ability to provide tuition. I hope your
readers will consider assisting in this remarkable
renaissance in Waveland. Donation information is included on
their web site.
Thank you for your help in this matter.