Friday, December 02, 2005

Katrina photos and podcasts from the Lower Ninth Ward

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina continues to unfold

Three months have now passed since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, the national press has shifted its attention to other affairs, and the public may have grown weary of tragic news from the Gulf Coast. Nevertheless, the tragedy continues to unfold in the most devastated areas, where emergency workers remain activated, and victims are still being found.

A report on the recovery operation in the Lower Ninth Ward can be heard in this PGR MP3 (technically not a true RSS "podcast", 5.2 MB).

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Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward return to view their destroyed neighborhood

Even though press attention has shifted elsewhere in recent weeks, at the operations center in the lower Ninth Ward, the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina continues to unfold. Emergency workers continue the search for victims, and residents continue to trickle back only to find that they have no homes to return to.

A report on the relief operation in the Lower Ninth Ward can be heard in this PGR MP3 (4.7 MB).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Yesterday, Mayor Ray Nagin allowed Lower Ninth Ward residents to view their homes up close on a "look and leave" basis for the first time. The 8 PM - 6 AM curfew remains in effect. Previously, the only way anyone could get into the barricaded neighborhood was to take a bus tour.

The area of the Lower Ninth Ward that suffered the worst devastation from flooding after the breach in the Industrial Canal is vast, covering about 200 square blocks. For the sake of comparison, the same area would cover most of Uptown, or the Garden District, or Algiers Point. To get a sense of the flooding that inundated this area, I posted a flood map in an earlier PGR post.

In this map, the area of the Lower Ninth Ward that was barricaded off, in which there may not be a single home that can be salvaged, is south of the railroad tracks from Florida Avenue to Claiborne Avenue, and from the Industrial Canal at Surekote Road east to Dubreuil Street.

The following photos provide but a small glimpse of an idea of how completely destroyed the Lower Ninth Ward is from flooding. There is not a single house to be seen in the area immediately in front of the breach. Elsewhere, entire houses were moved off of their foundations and pushed blocks away. These photos had to be taken through windows as the bus went bouncing along the predetermined route. There were only two exceptions where people were allowed to leave the bus. Otherwise, no one was allowed to leave the bus for fear they might try to go inside a house that could collapse. I do plan to return to get better photos.

In the background lays the warped iron sheetpiling which was once inside a levee on the Industrial Canal. Behind the sheetpiling is the gravel mound built to patch the levee.

The bus driver said that an entire family was found in a later search of this house.

This man said that another family member owns the shotgun house on the left. He owns the house on the right. His brick house used to look like the shotgun, but Hurricane Betsy destroyed it in 1965. In a determined voice he said, "I rebuilt it then. I'll rebuild it again." These homes may still be standing, but they were certainly flooded to the attics and are probably structurally unsound.

This was the only point in the trip when the bus driver allowed everyone off of the bus to look. The message emergency workers wanted to convey to Lower Ninth Ward residents was that there isn't anything left of their homes, or inside their homes, that they'll be able to salvage. As we drove around the neighborhood, the bus driver pointed out homes along the route which had collapsed. As homes settle, as the ground dries, there is a very high risk of houses collapsing.

Animal rescue personnel leave food out for a loose dog that miraculously survived the storm.

11/03/05 update: Nine Inch Nails was allowed into the Lower Ninth Ward and has what looks to me to be the most comprehensive gallery of photos. By the way, I've never been a fan of self-aggrandizing profiteering on death, sadism, or self-mutilation, and I do find it darkly ironic that a band named Nine Inch Nails would want to tour the Lower Ninth Ward. And I question the judgment of allowing a rock band to wander unsupervised around an area to look at homes owned by people who can only see them from inside of a bus.

11/08/05 update: If you're having difficulty loading the audio files, you might try a more recent post to The server there seems to be a little more robust.


At 12/02/2005 06:23:00 PM, Blogger Mixter said...

Wow. Mother Nature is a bitch sometimes.


At 12/02/2005 08:27:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

It wouldn't be so bad if the people you rely upon for help weren't bitches too.

Have you seen the YRHT post on this theme -- must read.

At 12/03/2005 07:45:00 AM, Blogger Mixter said...

That was an excellent post.


At 12/03/2005 10:05:00 AM, Blogger Polimom said...

All of that, btw, originated at the City Journal, and Nicole Gelinas. They've been trying to get that strategy out there for some time.

I agreed with Nicole Gelinas, too, and as a tactical approach, it's about the only thing that might save the situation at this point.

If it's all about partisan politics (and it certainly seems to be), then by all means let's take advantage of it!

At 12/05/2005 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Maverick said...

As always, great pictures. Thanks for going down there - I would not have been able to see upclose otherwise.

Spitting in a Wishing Well

At 12/05/2005 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Maverick said...

oh, and F NIN! I left the voodoo fest before they played!

Spitting in a Wishing Well

At 12/05/2005 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Stacie -- I stayed. You didn't miss anything.

polimom, thanks for pointing out the Gelinas article -- so true, though I hate having to want Bush to succeed.


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