Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Algiers comes back to life

The east bank of New Orleans remains a ghost town - with the notable exception of fleets of press, military, and law enforcement vehicles from around the country parked in the French Quarter. Unlike the east bank, the west bank is now slowly coming back to life, buttressed by services that are being restored to Jefferson Parish next to Orleans.

There are now grocery stores open - the Winn-Dixie at MacArthur Boulevard and Holiday Drive, and the Sav-A-Center at Belle Chasse Highway and Lapalco - although the shelves are bare, and it seems to me that some of the things on the shelves have been there through the power outages after Katrina. There are also a number of gas stations open on the West Bank - in Algiers and Harvey. Of course, there are many more businesses open in Jefferson Parish, and I'm hearing now that the curfew there is starting later - from midnight to 5 AM. In Algiers, the curfew remains from sundown to sunup.

In my in-law's neighborhood this morning, I heard the sweeping of roof tiles along cement and hammers. Notwithstanding the billions that will be spent to rebuild New Orleans, this is the real sound of the reconstruction as it will unfold in the coming weeks and months - families impatiently returning to the city, one at a time, fed up with the delays and living in strange cities, in hotels, motels, with friends and family, reclaiming their homes, one piece at a time.

One of the most compelling symbols of life returning to Algiers - as I left the house, there at the foot of the driveway, neatly wrapped in a plastic bag, was today's Times-Picayune. I don't know if my in-laws had a subscription. I doubt it. I think, like the Red Cross card that was left in the door jam, the Times-Picayune is probably delivering papers to homes where there are signs of residency.

I've become used to driving around with no other cars on the road. This morning, traffic on General DeGaulle was almost like rush hour, pre-Katrina. Something will have to be done to minimize the lines forming at check points back into Algiers, now doubling every day.

Again, the east bank of New Orleans has a long way to go. Mayor Nagin, I'm hoping, will get serious, and soon, and instead of telling us in a patronizing way that there is a "process" and a "detailed plan" for the resettlement of the city, will tell us what that "process" is, and what that "detailed plan" is. For God's sake, let people go back to their homes. We're all adults who assess risks every day. If there are risks, state them clearly so people can evaluate for themselves the dangers, and let them make a decision about how to move on with their lives.


At 9/30/2005 05:38:00 AM, Blogger Mixter said...

Schroeder, it's got to be like living in a war zone. Your ongoing story is so intriguing. Please do keep us informed, as we care about you and your family, and are concerned for the area as a whole.

And keep safe, please!



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