I thought I’d give you some of my impressions of New Orleans since I’ve been back for a week and a half.
There are definite signs of life here now. I work at “the Lakefront”, right on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, at the North end of Elysian Fields Avenue. To get here I have to go through some of the most devastated areas of the city (e.g., Lakeview).
When I first passed by here almost 9 months ago, shortly after Katrina, there were NO signs of life. All the shops, restaurants, gas stations, houses, etc., were deserted, dark, open. Cars covered with flood water debris sat empty and lifeless in driveways and on the streets in front of empty, lifeless homes. There were no street lights, no traffic lights.
Today, most street and traffic lights are back on. Although it’s still a search to find an open gas station, we now have a Subway, a Sav-a-Center (grocery), a Burger King, Café Roma (Italian restaurant) all within a mile of work.
Rubbish has been or is being cleared, many of the most heavily damaged buildings have been or are being leveled. There are many trailers parked in front of homes being rebuilt, as neighborhoods struggle to return.
Restaurants are still operating with limited menus in many cases, and reduced hours in most. Lines are long, and service is harried, but people seem to be used to it, and accept it as a way of life. There are exceptions, notably Byblos on Magazine St. Their menu is back to normal, and if you choose your time wisely, there is no waiting and the service is excellent.
As I drive back and forth to work, I can’t help noticing the areas where there isn’t much of an improvement over the past 9 months. At the marina along the West end of Lakeshore Drive, boats are still lying about like discarded toys. Lakeshore Drive is still in shambles due to erosion of the soil along the lakefront wall, and the street is buckling in places. One of the shelters is either falling apart or being torn down, it’s difficult to say.
On a positive note for me personally, New Orleans Food and Spirits (NOFS) on Old Hammond Hwy is back in business and is as good as ever. The ‘Teau should reopen late July or August.
And I think people I meet are beginning to seem more optimistic about the city coming back.
What seems like an impossible task is slowly and surely taking place.
Trailers are everywhere, and you can see work being done to bring homes back.
Although there is the occasional “for sale” sign, they are not nearly as numerous as one might have expected.
The impression is that people really do want to come back to their homes and neighborhoods.
I have some pictures. As soon as the wedding is over I will try to get them up for you all to see. Take care, and God bless.