Author: Francine J.
Date of Trip: November 2006
My husband and I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans (NO). The reason for our visit was twofold. First was to take a cruise out of the Port of New Orleans and secondly, we were interested in seeing how the city was recovering after Katrina.
On our cruise we learned that many NO residents were affected by Katrina, not only those residing in the ninth ward. We learned that many lost all of their personal belongings as they all felt that this evacuation was no different and they would return in three days. We spoke with many locals all upset with the lack of progress in the city. We also spoke with a women who had insurance and was lucky enough to be returning to her home after being out for 15 months. We learned that most residents are still waiting for funds from FEMA. Speaking with these folks was a mind altering experience, but not enough to prepare us for what we would actually find when we got to New Orleans.
Yes, the French Quarter and Jackson Square areas are up and running. Yes, our hotel had a convention of about 1000 people. But on many streets, there were just a handful of tourists. Most shops and restaurants were empty and the French Quarter itself seemed pretty much like a ghost town. We saw many signs about stores and businesses closing.
The real shock came as we took the Grayline Katrina tour. We spent three hours touring one devastated area after another. We saw large shopping centers destroyed, schools, hospitals and businesses boarded up. We saw many houses — some leveled and some boarded up –and many with for sale signs. We saw little activity or any evidence that New Orleans was coming back.
We saw many FEMA trailers which were now used as rent-free homes for locals for up to eighteen months. The question was raised about what happens after that time. We spoke with one women, a professional who just returned from staying with her family in Georgia and had not yet returned to see what had happend to her home.
Most folks thanked us for coming to visit their city. Most felt it important that we let the rest of the USA know that New Orleans needs them.
Our guide on the bus said that we rebuilt Europe after the war and now it is New Orleans turn. This definitely was a mind altering experience for both my husband and myself. I encourage all folks to go to New Orleans, spend money, help their dying economy, and spread the word that New Orleans needs help.