10 September 2006

Exploring Lakeview--One Year Later

On Tuesday, 29 August 2006--the one year anniversary of KTMB's landfall and the man-induced drowning of New Orleans--I decided to skip the "dumbass" parade (see comments section of a previous post) or bell ringing ceremonies or politician photo ops. Instead, I decided to mark the anniversary by canvassing Lakeview to assess the rebuilding progress in one of New Orleans' most devastated neighborhoods. I started off by visiting the 17th Street Canal breach/Old Hammond Highway bridge/in-progress 17th Street Canal pumps and floodgates. There, two of the levees.org ladies were out on the bridge with sign and American flag getting the attention (and horn blows and "thumbs-up" in return) of passing-by cars . . .

About a block from the breach site hangs a "Hold the Corps Accountable" banner. Ten to fifteen buildings closest to the breach site on the west side of Bellaire Drive were demolished in the past couple of months. The removal of the buildings makes construction access to the site easier, but also it is my understanding that the permanent gate and pump to be built within the next few years will possibly be located upon these lots.

17th Street Canal Breach, Hi-Res via Flickr
17th Street Canal Floodgate/Pump Construction, Hi-Res via Flickr

After revisiting the Old Hammond Highway bridge for the at least 20th time since August 2005, I drove extensively throughout Lakeview. I have done this every so often throughout the neighborhoods of New Orleans since the storm (thus explaining my nine flat tires) and sometimes this is a quite depressing (but necessary) experience and other times it provide some hope for the future. This day was one of hope--and again keep in mind this hope is relative to seeing what Lakeview has looked like month after month over the past year. The place still looks like a bomb went off--make no mistake--but what I hoped to see and did see were some signs of progress. The two panoramas below illustrate the varying degrees of conditions of homes in Lakeview: abandoned/overgrown, abadoned/but maintained, demolished, and renovated/new construction.

General Diaz and Bragg Streets, Hi-Res via Flickr
Argonne Boulevard and Lane Street, Hi-Res via Flickr

Many houses in Lakeview resemble the one below: the house has been gutted and cleared of the ruined contents, but still sits unrehabilitated and overgrown. It seems as if many Lakeview houses in this current condition are awaiting demolition--either using ICC monies (City/FEMA-funded) or being paid for by the individual property owner.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are houses like the two below. These have been completely renovated and its owners are back living within them. Amazingly the second picture below is a house on Bellaire affronting the 17th Street Canal within a few lots of the breach. Their City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana flags fly proudly.

The next two pictures display a house on Orleans Avenue sitting untouched (minus the for sale signs) for the past year. What interests me about this house is that it is extremely old for Lakeview--and uncharacteristically raised. Bounded by Harrison and Filmore, this section of Orleans had 10 feet of water and even the second floor of this house took in some water. The interior shot is within the ground floor of the house.

New construction--raised 10 feet from ground level--underway off of Harrison Avenue can be seen below. Imagine if all post-war residential construction in Lakeview (and Gentilly and New Orleans East) was built in this manner instead of mostly slab construction for the past fifty years . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Lakeview, 17th Street Canal, We Are Not Ok


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