On Friday, I took a tour of New Orleans. Specifically, we took the Hurricane Katrina tour offered by Grayline Tours. Before I went to New Orleans, I was told by several people that the devastation is at a level that you cannot even imagine. That pictures and video footage cannot fully convey the damage.They were right.
It was amazing to see the buildings heavily damaged, and not even cleaned up or repaired at all in the last year. We saw water lines on many buildings, which showed exactly how high the water went. If you were lucky, it was only a few feet. If you were like most, it went up between six and twelve feet.
Windows remain broken. Roofs were torn off. Some have been repaired. Many have not. Tarps cover some roofs. Homes have spray paint on the front, left by relief workers traveling (mainly in boats) from home to home, checking for people and pets. They painted symbols on the front of the houses so that other workers would know that the properties were already checked.
We visited the 9th Ward, one of the hardest hit areas. Until recently, the tour buses were not allowed to go through this area. Now they are allowed to drive through, but are prohibited from stopping and letting out passengers. Most of the businesses are gone. Strip malls are empty and completely destroyed. Some buildings are merely shells, with almost nothing on the interior. I could see all the way through.
Some properties are being rebuilt. It seems that so few are being rehabbed, when you compare them to the number that remain destroyed. I commend the businesses that are repairing and taking a chance on the community. Those businesses are needed by the residents who have returned, and hopefully more residents will return in order to support the businesses. They need each other.