The Lakeview experience by Paola
So, what is it like to visit NO in the aftermath?
It depends. You land in Kenner, get out of the airport, head just a couple of miles eastward in the ’burbs, and the only thing that catches your eye is the missing branches on the trees. Everything else looks really just fine.
Even the day after, on Christmas, when everybody stay home for cooking, and you head downtown along the Esplanade, there’s really only some garbage on the sidewalk, and some houses that possibly weren’t in a very good shape even before Katrina hit.
(By the way: Christmas morning in the French Quarter. Don’t. Miss. That. When the cold morning air washes away all the forced Bourbon Street gayness that looks so touristic to these disenchanted Roman eyes. When even Christmas decorations look tired.)
This is the asleep town. And you could really stop here. Stay in the Quarter. Wait for the other tourists to show up for their beignets, and then the daiquiris, and the hurricanes (cocktailwise speaking, ‘f course), and the music, the amazing food, the partying and so on. There’s nothing wrong with being content with that.
Or you could head elsewhere. Northwest, towards the lake, for example.
And there find the (mostly) ghost town.
At one point, after one avenue or the other, the air seems to stand still. If you’re ballsy enough, try to take a picture of the rows of empty shells that used to be houses. I wasn’t. Even if the house was empty, and the bodycount on the cross read “0”, it still seemed plain wrong to violate the sorrow and the grief of the people who had to come back here, to collect the devastation that was left. Or if you’re really ballsy, you can ask if you can take a picture to the people who just rebuilt their house in a ghostly ‘hood, and celebrate their Christmas in an open backyard (fences don’t really block ghosts, do they?) frying turkey in a big tank.
I didn’t take any picture, but we got back some days later with Phil, Carrie and their kids. To the empty shell that used to be their house. They spent many years working on it, making it the beautiful dreamhouse. “We thought about rebuilding, but look around… How could our kids grow up here?”
And we walked through the bare bones of the shell that used to be 500K dollars worth, on the lot that some greedy real estate business wants to buy for 15K dollars. After the flooding, came the sharks. Phil and Carrie can talk about it with the most serene look on their face. About having three little kids and two mortgages to take care of. About starting again their business out of town. Never a complain. Just “I wish it will work out”. Words failed me. I wish everything will work out too, guys.
And wish I still remember the “10 reasons to live in Lakeview after Katrina” that someone wrote down on a board right in front of their newly rebuilt house, next to the levee that broke. Of course there was a reference about “lots of parking space”.
Guess what. I was not ballsy enough to take a picture of them, so you should really go and read them for yourself.
Or just don’t pay attention to me, or my report. Go to the Quarter. Have fun. If you’re only up for the crazy partying and such, nobody will force you to share their sorrow, and they’ll party with you. Go there. Spend money. Help local businesses.
Those are amazing people, I tell you. Hats off, N’awlins. Hope to see you again soon.over 6 years ago