News from NOLA

We’re wrapping up the second day, and it’s not nearly as bad as I expected in terms of a year ago. St. Bernard’s ParishLife is coming back to the Quarter, shops are open, and it seems promising. No worries about parking the car in an open lot outside (like last time) or walking home in the late hours.

It’s almost like slow motion, the city slowly waking up from being knocked down. We’ve been eating some wonderful food, amazing, actually, with help from a current guidebook which has helped a lot. The first night we hit a home run with Dante’s Kitchen over in Uptown, then tonight another hit with an Italian restaurant on Frenchman Avenue near our hotel.

The home we’re currently working on is owned by Mr. Parks, a sixty-year old man who basically stayed to ride out the storm and then helped his neighbors with his boat by transporting them to second-story buildings where they could stay until the water receded over the next three or four days.  He returned to his home to collect food from his refrigerator and water to drink for everyone, while keeping an eye out for the police and other folks who weren’t doing good stuff afterward.  He had some stories to tell which I’ll try to follow up on in the next two or three days while we’re there.  What I found more amazing today was that he received his “Road Home” money–money sponsored by the Feds to help with home rebuild projects.  This means that our St. Bernard’s Project work will be completed next week when he’ll be able to pay contractors to do professional work on his home.  Nice, considering he is retired and apparently living on his $900/month pension.  About time–nearly two years later.

2 thoughts on “News from NOLA

  1. rebecca solnit was in the store the other day and she was talking to the manager about new orleans and the shift in demographics… from mostly african-american to mostly white… have you noticed this? do you have thoughts on it?

  2. Geez, this is a hard question. I’m not sure I’d trust my own answer to this, but it’s definitely possible as it takes money and resources to return, no matter who you are. It’s been a shift in demographics of socio-economics in intersting ways; for one, many private white collar jobs, such as laywers and doctors are moving away even after returning due to lack of business for their practices.

    As for race, it was no coincidence that Ray Nagin proclaimed that NOLA would remain a Chocolate City when he was reelected.

    I’d say it’s probably more amazing that more corporations and private developers are not scarfing up the land, as prices are down. It’d say it’s a *very* risky game to use real estate as an investment there right now, as the feds are not actively cooperative with the rebuild process and are leaving it to the local and state governments (possibly another Nagin legacy). And as the economy is dependent on the confidence expressed in the levee system’s reliability, coupled with the fear of global warming, it’s really the die-hards (citizens) and the wealthy (young and old and corporations) who can bear the risks of reinvestment.

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