Burned-Out House at 4th and S. Tonti

Burned-Out House at 4th and S. TontiI had an hour this morning between work and more work, so I took the opportunity to hop on the new bike and tool around Broadmoor.  Broadmoor took on a lot of water when the levees broke, and the neighborhoods in the area are only slowly coming back.  Some streets have maybe one house that’s been redone on the block while other blocks look like nothing ever happened.  The rebuilding here is incredibly uneven, as it is in most parts of town.  So much has to be in place in order to fully commit to moving back here and to be able, financially and emotionally, to start all over.  I’m always impressed by the streets with just one rebuilt house, but also sad.  How does one mourn, incorporate loss and move on, when surrounded by constant physical reminders of that devastation?  But people do it.  I don’t understand how.  I stopped and took this picture of a burned-out house near the corner of S. Tonti and 4th.  I stopped because I could smell it, that slightly sour, old, woody smell of wet, burned decay.  Now, I don’t know when this house burned down, but that’s the thing that struck me as I rode around today.  I don’t know when these houses were abandoned.  I don’t know if the many crews working on houses in the neighborhood are still doing post-Katrina repairs, or if they’re simply doing some remodeling.  I wonder if I will ever ride around this place and be able to forget what happened here three and a half years ago.  I bet most people who don’t live here already have.

7 thoughts on “Burned-Out House at 4th and S. Tonti

  1. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the whole world, so I haven’t forgotten (also one of my best friends is originally from Meterie). Unfortunately, I do think most of the rest of the country has forgotten what happened or, worse yet, thinks that the city has been restored. “Okay, fixed that, now I don’t have to think about it anymore.”
    It’s still hard for me to believe how this country let New Orleans down…

  2. @Jolly Crank…I don’t think the country let NO down. Their own leaders did.

    One thing people seem to forget when there is a disaster the size and scope of Katrina, is that the infrastructure that got wiped out took hundreds of years to build and cannot be replaced overnight. It took several lifetimes of many, many people to build NO to the level it was at, it will take several lifetimes to rebuild even a portion of it. And many of those people will chose not to come back. IMHO there are parts of NO that should never be rebuilt, they shouldn’t have been allowed to be built to start with. And it isn’t just NO it happens everywhere.

    It is human nature after a disaster of the scope of Katrina to try and accentuate the positive and declare that things will be rebuilt better than they were. But in reality it is not always feasible or even possible.


  3. Kate –
    I came across your superb blog from Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Thanks so much for doing it. I used to manage Bayou Bicycles bK and live in Dallas now. My wife and I are doing what we can to move back, so in the meantime, I will follow your adventures here.

  4. Aaron, I respectfully disagree. I think the disaster that struck NOLA was man made. The Levees that were built and designed by the Corps of Engineers did not perform as they were supposed to. Watershed areas that in the past mitigated the force of hurricane sells have been allowed to erode over the past few decades–for the oil industry (our COUNTRY is culpable there). Our government did not respond as it was supposed to to the emergency.
    In a representative democracy, we, as citizens share responsibility with our leaders. I don’t know if you have visited NOLA in the aftermath or since Katrina, but even things that the powers that be promised to rebuild is at a standstill.

  5. I was in NO within a week or so after Katrina. I saw the devastation first hand. The levee’s were never designed for a storm like Katrina. I have no answer to the government response. I have worked with emergency plans in the past; we were always taught that you are on your own for the first 12-24 hours, then it is a local response (if able), then state then Federal within 72 hours. Usually due to the difficulties accessing a disaster area. The local government basically abandoned their people, the state goverment claimed it didn’t need help, and the clown in charge of the federal response was incompetent. Not much we as individuals can do about that, other than take care of our own business and preparations.

    FWIW I firmly believe that in times of disaster the person best able to help me is myself and what I do to prepare for it. I look to the government as last resort.

    As far as thing not being rebuilt…you have politicians in charge, and they are usually the least effective at getting things done. They promise and quite often don’t deliver, or can’t deliver. One estimate I saw on the rebuilding of the basic infrastructure worked out to nearly $125,000 for every man, woman and child that lived in NO. No one can afford that.

    I was actually working in Mobile, AL at the time Katrina came a calling. I took one look at the size and scope of the storm, made my preparations and evacuated to northern Florida. I was back in Mobile on Tuesday afternoon, as soon as they would allow traffic on I-10. We were unable to actually return to work for over a week.

    I have spent most of my working life in hurricane zones. I can prepare why can’t others?


  6. Aaron: How did you evacuate? Did you get in your car? Where did you go? Friends, family? Motel? What if all your family lived in the New Orleans and you were so poor you didn’t have these things?Maybe some people had some money but couldn’t afford to spend the next two months rent leaving home, especially if it turned out not to be a disaster (no one comes and helps you out after a “non-disaster.”) And remember, if the levees hadn’t failed, Katrina would have been a non-disaster at least in New Orleans. Whatever you say about people helping themselves, those agencies designed to help (before and after) didn’t and I don’t believe that’s okay. (if your mandate is no longer helping out in an emergency, don’t call yourself FEMA anymore).
    You know, about 10 years ago the Mississippi River flooded all through the Midwest, towns and people were hit hard. Those areas were re-built very quickly and there was little talk about how people should not live in a flood zone. What’s different?
    Saying that New Orleans shouldn’t have been built in some parts doesn’t mitigate the fact that it was and that only the disenfranchised seem to pay the penalty for that. And yes, I believe we continue to let those fellow Americans down.

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