Monday, April 10, 2006

Seeing the Devastation for Ourselves

Given directions, we set about going to the 9th Ward, one of the hardest hit areas to see the devastation for ourselves. Upon arrival, we noticed that the only people in the whole area were a few contractors with no residents to be found. The streets were eerily deserted, it looked as though a nuclear bomb was dropped a few thousand feet away and the resulting fallout severely damaged all the structures, left a film of debris and destruction in its wake but did not completely demolish all the houses. It felt like a ghost town, with peoples belongings strewn about the street. A dirty teddy bear was in the front of a house with half its roof missing. There was a visible yellowish/whitish line on all the structures that was from 5-15 feet in height representing the extent of the flood. I felt like I was in a third world country. A few structures look as if they were not touched and others were completely destroyed, with only the underground basement and concrete stairs leading up the house left standing. One caveat: the area of the 9th Ward was not a model of civic living before the hurricane. It was one of the poorest ghettos in the country that was neglected and falling apart for years. The hurricane happened to expose all of this. The great schism that existed and continues to exist in New Orleans between rich and poor is more evident now than ever. Seeing the area in person helped to put everything in perspective and helped us understand the extent of the devastation – we now have some understanding, be it a small one, of what hell the residents had to go through.

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